Skip to main content

Full text of "The soul of Central Africa : a general account of the Mackie Ethnological Expedition"

See other formats



The Soul of Central 

ArriC3. <^ General Account of 
The Mackie Ethnological Expedi- 
tion ^ By the Rev. John Roscoe, 

Hon. M. A. (Camb.), Leader of the Expedition 

With 56 Plates and Map 

Cassell and Company, Limited, London 

New York, Toronto and Melbourne 1922 


whose munificence made the Expedition possible, 
these pages are gratefully dedicated. 


IN this book I have aimed at giving a general account 
of the journeyings of the Mackie Ethnological Ex- 
pedition in Central Africa and of the lives and ways 
of the peoples visited, leaving such information as is more 
of a purely scientific character and not so much of popular 
interest to be published later. Some of the customs of 
these tribes are, indeed, of such a nature that they 
cannot well be described in a book which is intended for 
the general reader. I have, however, mentioned in pass- 
ing a few of these customs, without entering into details, 
in order to let people at home know that there still exist, 
in this age of enlightenment, human beings .whose lives 
are spent in such terrible darkness. 

When I ceased to be a missionary in Africa I was 
several times asked whether it would not be possible for 
me to return to the country and complete some of the 
investigations which I began during my twenty-five 
years of work there. It was thought that as I had been 
resident in those parts for so many years, and not only 
knew the country and the peoples, but had also some 
knowledge of their languages, their characteristics, and 
their modes of thought, I was more suited for conduct- 
ing an ethnological expedition than a younger man, who 
would take months to acquire the preliminary knowledge 
that would be necessary before he could start the real 
work of investigation. 

For some time funds for such a purpose were not 


viii Preface 

available, but Sir James G. Frazer, who first aroused in 
me an interest in anthropology, was unceasing in his 
attempts to find some means of financing the work. At 
length, owing to his efforts, Sir Peter Mackie, of Glen- 
reasdell, became interested in the project, and most 
generously came forward and shouldered the whole 
financial burden, handing over to the Royal Society 
ample sums for the purpose. The Royal Society under- 
took the supervision of the expedition and exerted its 
great influence to remove obstacles and difficulties in 
the way of travelling arrangements in Africa, and in 
many other matters. 

When, however, we had found so generous a patron, 
other difficulties arose, for the war made the expedition 
impossible, and, when peace came, travelling difficulties 
were so great that it w^as June of 1919 before I finally 
started. That I got a passage even then was due to the 
interest of Sir Peter Mackie, who made arrangements 
with the Clan Line of steamers to carry me and my 
goods to Africa. I wish here to express my thanks to 
this firm for the assistance which they rendered to the 

During all the preparations and throughout the whole 
course of the expedition Sir Peter Mackie 's interest and 
kindness never flagged, and he was indefatigable in his 
endeavours to help me in every possible way. Personally 
I owe him a great debt of gratitude, and words of 
thanks are quite inadequate to express the service to 
Science, to the Government, to Christianity, and, last 
but not least, to the native of Central Africa, that his 
generosity made possible. I can but hope that the results 
of the expedition, incomplete as they are, may make a 
fitting return for his munificence. 

The objects of the expedition .were both scientific 


Preface ix 

and philanthropic. In the first place, science requires 
information with regard to the tribes of Central Africa, 
whose old habits and customs are fast disappearipg under 
the rising flood of civilization. For the collection of 
such information the time is now or never, for the only 
records are in the memories of the people, and a very 
short time will suffice to sweep them into oblivion. 
Secondly, it was hoped that the information thus acquired 
might be of some help to those who rule this part of 
our Empire and, through them, to the native tribes who 
inhabit it. The peoples of such a land are so entirely 
different from us in their habits of life and thought that, 
in order to secure just and peaceable government, their 
rulers should know enough of their laws and customs to 
avoid those flagrant errors and injustices which must of 
necessity lead to discontent, bitterness, and strife. Such 
a study may also show what ideas and tendencies already 
present in the native mind may, with advantage, be 
strengthened and developed in order to accelerate the 
growth of these peoples in civilization, so that they may 
take their place in the forward march of the nations of 
the world. Then, too, for the missionary a right under- 
standing of primitive beliefs is essential, for he should 
be able to distinguish between customs which must be 
ruthlessly destroyed and those which contain a germ of 
truth capable of development. He must also be able 
to present the Christian belief in a manner acceptable to 
the native mind. 

I have here and there set down criticisms which my 
special knowledge of the native and of his language has 
enabled me to make. These, I hope, may be of some 
help in caUing attention to abuses which may have been 
overlooked or of which the serious character has not 
been realized. 

X Preface 

One important purpose of the expedition remains 
unfulfilled, for native risings and the unsettled state of 
the country made it impossible to go through Karamojo 
to the borders of Abyssinia in order to visit the Galla 
tribes. This was just the part of the country in which 
I had hoped to do the most valuable work of the expe- 
dition, but it has had to be left for some future time, 
it may be for some other worker, who, I trust, will be 
more fortunate and more successful than I was. 

Mr. Wellcome, of the well-known firm of Messrs. 
Burroughs, Wellcome & Company, very generously pro- 
vided me .with a medicine-chest and the drugs necessary 
for the expedition. These were invaluable, and saved the 
lives of my boys on more than one occasion, besides 
enabling me to gain an influence among some of the 
peoples by my ability to supply remedies for diseases 
from which they were suffering. My sincere thanks are 
due to Mr. Wellcome for this, and also for a donation 
to enable me to collect objects of pharmaceutical interest 
for investigation and exhibition purposes. 

I desire here to record my grateful thanks to the 
Rev. W. A. Cox for his kind help in reading over the 
MS. and making suggestions; to my assistant. Miss 
Bisset, for unceasing work which has relieved me of 
much of the burden of producing this book; to Sir 
James G. Frazer, who has kindly read the proofs; and, 
finally, to Mr. Filleul, of the Uganda Protectorate, and 
one or two others, who have supplied me with some of 
the photographs. 

OviNGTON Rectory, 

September, 1921. 



1. The Start of the Expedition . . . .1 

2. Mombasa — Nairobi — Kampala .... 26 

3. Ankole — The Peoples . . ... 52 

4. Ankole — ^Beliefs and Ceremonies of the Bahuma 78 

5. Ankole and Kigezi ...... 94 

6. toro and the journey to bunyoro . . .115 

7. BuNYORO . . . . . . . . 186 

8. BuNYORO (continued) . . . . . ' . 158 

9. Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro . . 172 

10. BuNYORo — ^Death, Burial and Succession . . 188 

11. BuNYORO — Ceremonies, Religion, and Modern 

Development ...... 204 

12. Lake Kioga — ^Teso Country — Mount Elgon . 224 

13. Mount Elgon — The Bagesu .... 242 

14. Mount Elgon — Sabei 262 

15. A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga . . . 280 

16. Busoga — Farewell to Uganda .... 296 

17. The Journey Home 314 

Index 829 



Ankole : Medicine-Men Ready for Work 

Sir Peter J. Mackie, Bart. .... 

The Derelict Rangkok being Towed into Port 

Durban : A Native Hut .... 

Durban : A Rickshaw and Driver 

The Expedition Gar in a Swamp during the Journey to Ankole 

The Cook to the Expedition 

Ankole : The King and the Prime Minister . 
Ankole : Cattle Grazing .... 
Ankole : A Typical Hut .... 
Ankole : Fat Woman being Carried on a Litter 
Ankole : Fat Women Dancing 
Ankole : The King with Sacred Staff and Spears 
Ankole : The King with Sacred Bow and Spear 
Ankole : Carpenters ..... 
Ankole : Smiths at Work .... 

Ankole : Milk-pots 

Ankole : The King's Sister, with her Husband and Child 

Ankole : The King's Daughter and the Katikiro's Mother 

Ankole : The Chief Medicine-Man 

Ankole : Medicine-Men Exorcising a Ghost . 

Ankole : Dancing to Drums made from Water-poti 

Ankole : Sacred Drums in their House 

Ankole : Crater Lake . . - . 

Ankole : Crater Lake ..... 

An Old Woman of Kigezi .... 

Man of Ruanda ...... 

Toro: The Salt Pools, Katwe Salt-works 
Camp of the Expedition in Kigezi 
Weaver-Birds' Nests ..... 

A Cannibal of Luenzori .... 

Lake Albert : Gathering Water-weeds for Fuel 
Lake Albert : A Government Station . 
Lake Albert : Source of the White Nile 
Toro : Our Last Camp on Lake Albert 







































List of Plates 


Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 



Bunyoro Type 136 

Sir Samuel Baker's Assistant : Messenger between Sir Samuel 
Baker and King Kabarega .... 

Bunyoro Type ....... 

Bunyoro : The King with his Wife and Daughters 
Bunyoro : The Royal Milk-pots and Churn . 
Bunyoro : The Royal Meat Dish 

Bunyoro : The King and Milkmaids ready for Milking 
monies ....... 

Bunyoro : Two Wives of a Former King 
Milking the Sacred Cows 
Crowns Worn by Past Kings 
Old Throne of the Kings 
Rain-maker's Shrine .... 

Bunyoro : Potters at Work ..... 

Bunyoro : Salt-works at Kibero .... 

Bunyoro : Houses of the Salt-workers on the Lake Shore 
Kibero ........ 

Bunyoro : Salt-works at Kibero. Scraping up the Sand 
Bunyoro : Salt-worker at Kibero, with Pots in which Sand 
Washed ........ 

Bunyoro : Carrying Salt ...... 

Packing Salt in the Market-place at Kibero . 
Iron-smelters in Camp ..... 

Iron-smelters at Work ..... 

Sacred Pool for Human Sacrifice at Kibero . 
Wicker Frame for Fumigating Bark-cloth 
Taking an Augury from a Fowl . 
Bunyoro Fetishes ....... 

Bunyoro : King with Chiefs of the Sacred Guild in the Old 
Ceremonial Dress ...... 

Bunyoro : Present King with Court and Bodyguard 

The King in Court ..... 

Band of Trumpeters for New Moon Ceremonies 
Dance at New Moon Ceremonies . 
Bunyoro : Assembling for the New Moon Ceremonies . 
Bunyoro : New Moon Ceremonies. The King Advancing Along 

the Sacred Pathway, preceded by Spear-bearers . 
Bunyoro : The King's Jester ..... 

Bunyoro : New Moon Ceremonies. The Sacred Spears . 
Bunyoro : New Moon Ceremonies. The King Pardoning a Chief 
Bunyoro : New Moon Ceremonies. The King Under the 

Canopy 214 

Bunyoro : Court House at Masindi with King's House in Back- 
ground 218 

Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 

Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 
Bunyoro : 

List of Plates 



Bunyoro : Drums Used at New Moon Ceremonies . .218 

Canoes on Lake Kioga ....... 232 

Teso : A Granary 232 

Bagesu Women, showing Scarifications ..... 244 

Bagesu Men, showing Dress ...... 244 

Bagesu Initiation Ceremony : The Dance before the Ceremony 254 

Bagesu Initiation Ceremony: The Dance after Healing. . 254 

Bagesu Initiation Ceremony : Taking the Oath . . . 258 

Bagesu Women Carrying Food ...... 258 

The Sipi Fall, Mount Elgon 266 

A Government Camp on Mount Elgon . . . . . 266 

Sabei ; Men and Women Carrying Food .... 274 

Sabei : Porter Carrying Cowskins ...... 274 

Sabei : Milk-woman with Gourd Pots, Carrying Baby . . 276 

Women of Sabei 276 

Sabei : Marriage Dance . . . . I . . . 278 

Sabei : Houses with a Granary in centre .... 278 

The Caves on Mount Elgon ...... 292 

The Ripon Falls, Victoria Nile 292 

The Owen Falls, Victoria Nile 294 

Elgon Scenery ......... 294 

Sud on the Nile 316 

Old Nile Boats 316 

A Temple on the Banks of the Nile 318 

Rejaf : Gordon's Hill 318 

A Native Fort in the Sudan ...... 320 

Marchand's House at Fashoda ...... 320 

The Nile Boat 322 

A Wood Station on the Nile 322 

Omdurman School ........ 324 

On the Nile : Carrying a Baby in a Gourd Shell . . . 324 

View on the Nile 326 

A Native School on the Banks of the Nile .... 326 

Map .328 


Bagesu, the people living on the south and west slopes of Mount 

Bahera, sing. Muhera. Serfs or slaves of Ankole and Bunyoro. 

Bahuma, sing. Muhuma. Pastoral people. Used in this book 
more especially of the pastoral people of Ankole. 

Bakama, " the people of the King," a tribe on Mount Elgon. 

Bamalaki, the heretical sect in Uganda who are followers of a 
man named Malaki. 

Bamuroga, the most important chief in Bunyoro. 

Bantu, the people living in Central Africa, extending from the 
Nile and far to south and west, who are allied by language and customs 
and differ from the pure negro of the West Coast. 

Basabei, the people living on the upper part of Mount Elgon to 
the north and east. 

Buganda, the country ; this word is now confined to Buganda 
proper. Baganda — sing. Muganda — people of Buganda. Luganda, 
the language of Buganda. 

Bunyoro, the country next Buganda, extending to Lake Albert. 
Banyoro — sing. Munyoro — the people of Bunyoro. N.B. Munyoro 
means a freed man and was applied in scorn to the Banyoro by the 
Baganda. Lunyoro, the language of Bunyoro. 

Busoga, the country on the north end of Lake Victoria. Basoga, 
the people of Busoga. 

Kabaka, the title of the King of Buganda. 

Katara, the true and original name of Bunyoro. Bakatara, the 
people of Katara or Bunyoro. 

Katikiro, the principal chief in Buganda. 

Lewali, title of the Arab Governor of Mombasa. 

Mbuga, the name of the capital or residence of the King of Buganda. 

Muchwa, the reception room of the Queen of Bunyoro. 

Mugabe, the title of the King of Ankole. 

Mugole wa Muchwa, the title of the Queen of Bunyoro. 

Mukama, the title of the King of Bunyoro. 

Munyawa, title of the chief of tlie royal clan of Bunyoro. 

Nyina Mukama, title of the mother of the King of Bunyoro. 

Uganda, the coast name for Buganda. This name is now given 
to the Protectorate and not to the part Buganda. 





Africa, a New Country — The Mackie Ethnological Expedition — 
Delays and Difficulties — Life on a Cargo Ship — Cape Verde 
Islands — Cape St. Vincent — A Storm — War Experiences at 
Sea — Natal— Durban — Unloading Cattle and Cargo — Delagoa 
Bay — Loading Coal — A Change of Ship — Mombasa. 

IT was but a few years ago when, with those of us 
who dishked geography, the map of Africa was the 
favourite in our atlas. It called for least knowledge 
and effort when we had to reproduce it from memory; 
few mistakes were possible in the accuracy of our repro- 
duction, because scarcely any rivers, towns, or villages 
were known. The map contained just a scattering of 
names along the coastline, with here and there a name, 
based more on fancy than on fact, marked in the interior, 
while a chain of mountains in the centre, bearing the 
singular name, " Mountains of the Moon," completed 
the design. To-day this schoolboys' paradise is a thing 
-of the past ; explorers have trodden this hallowed ground ; 
men such as Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Grant, Baker, 
Stanley and others have crossed this great continent, 
marking on the map, as they travelled, rivers, lakes and 
mountains, and dividing it up into countries with actual 

2 The Soul of Central Africa 

and unpronounceable names, and thus niaking it almost 
as difficult to study as any other. 

This paradise may have been lost, its bubbles of deserts 
and trackless wastes may have burst, and the map with 
its ease of reproduction from memory have been snatched 
from the hands of the youth with a distaste for geography, 
but these pioneers have given us something of a more 
romantic and fascinating character which will interest the 
dullest intellect. They tell us of lands abounding in 
wonders, of peoples of extraordinary characteristics and 
manners; some whose homes are hidden away in rocks 
and caves or buried in remote forests; others, whose 
homes are built upon vegetation floating on the surface 
of the lakes; while others, like birds, build temporary 
habitations to be used for a short time and then 
abandoned. There are beasts and birds of the strangest 
habits, reptiles at once beautiful and repellent, unfamiliar 
fishes gleaming in the sunny waters, and the most 
beautiful plants and flowers the mind can picture. These 
wonders may well fire the imagination of youth and set 
the blood racing through the veins with a longing to sally 
forth to explore this fairyland or to engage in the pursuit 
or study of its wild animals. 

At this period of the world's history there are people 
who tell us that Africa is completely explored, and some 
young folk are apt to think that the glory of African 
adventure is gone, that the age of the discovery of new 
lands or peoples is past, and that there remains only the 
prosaic drudgery of sifting out the dregs which others 
have left. Such people might, with as good reason, tell 
us that England is perfectly known to the man who 
visits it and passes by a straight road from north to 
south without turning aside to see those towns which are 

The Start of the Expedition 3 

off his route or even to visit objects and sights of interest 
in the towns through which he passes. Africa, though 
much better known than it was even ten years ago, still 
retains by-paths along which no civilized man has passed, 
and there are many parts into which the white man has 
not penetrated. Its flora and fauna are little known to 
science and its mysteries of rock and earth are still 

It was to find out a little more about some of its 
peoples that the present writer ventured to go forth, at 
the invitation of the Royal Society, upon an expedition 
rendered possible by the munificence of Sir Peter Mackie, 
the object of which was, briefly, to throw more light 
upon the social life of one or two tribes living in 
that part of the interior of Africa which is known as 
the Lake region, and to add, by a more careful in- 
vestigation, to our actual knowledge of these strange 

Owing to the Great War the expedition was held 
up for some time, the Government considering that the 
presence of an Englishman wandering about in Central 
Africa during that time was not desirable; there was 
also further delay due to the difficulty in fitting out such 
an expedition, when most of the goods necessary for it 
were required for the troops. Not only was this the 
case, but there were tribes to be visited who were con- 
sidered to be in an unsettled state, while in other parts 
Germans were going about inciting the natives to rise 
against the English. For these reasons matters were 
delayed until the Armistice, when the prohibitions were 

Difficulties of another nature, however, now appeared. 
There were few passenger ships sailing to Africa, and 

4 The Soul of Central Africa 

those going were unable to grant any requests for accom- 
modation, as every available berth was already taken and 
there were long waiting lists. The procuring of pass- 
ports, without which no one could leave England, was 
also a lengthy business. All this seemed to involve 
further months of waiting. A more speedy way of 
reaching my destination, however, at length appeared, 
for the suggestion was made to me that I might go out 
in a cargo ship as a member of the crew. It was a 
new idea, and at first seemed a somewhat doubtful 
solution of the difficulty; but the assurance that there 
would be no call upon me to undertake impossible duties 
or disagreeable work changed my attitude. Moreover, 
there was always the chance that the experience thus 
gained would be useful in some way or other. I there- 
fore readily consented to go in this way, and was duly 
shipped as a supernumerary to the crew. 

Even then some weeks elapsed before the ship could 
sail ; there was first one and then another cause to detain 
us. The ships available for the voyage were frequently 
taken over by the Shipping Controller for other duties 
which were considered more pressing, and when we did 
at last sail it was with a large quantity of coal for one 
of the coal depots which had iDcen depleted during the 
war. These delays were useful in some respects, as they 
enabled me to get the necessary outfit, which war con- 
ditions had made it difficult to procure, and also to find 
a substitute to carry on my parochial duties during an 
absence which might extend to eighteen months or even 
longer. The ship to which I was finally assigned was 
the Ch7i Mac Arthur, carrying a general cargo to South 
Africa. She was one of the regular Australian ships 
fitted with special machinery for carrying cold-storage 

The Start of the Expedition 5 

meat, and now had to ship a large quantity of coal for 
the Cape Verde Islands. 

The ship was said to be lying at Cardiff, but upon 
my arrival there I found she was taking in coal at Barry. 
Here further delay occurred in getting the coal on board. 
During the few days spent at Cardiff there was an 
outburst of bitter racial feeling between the White and 
the coloured sailors. This rose to such a height that 
the men lost all self-control, and fighting took place. 
Two or three of them lost their lives in affrays during 
the three or four days these animosities continued. 

It was therefore with feelings of relief that I went to 
join the ship at Barry on Saturday, June 14, 1919, and 
,was taken to the shipping office to sign the ship's articles, 
a strange formality, but essential before I could sail in 
a cargo vessel. Though the ship was due to sail when I 
arrived, there still appeared to be much to be done 
before we could leave the dock. The chief officer pointed 
out a number of wooden stalls containing cattle which 
had yet to be shipped, and which were all, as he told me, 
valuable animals for South Africa. The task of shipping 
these animals took some hours, as many of them would not 
walk on board, but had to be put into stalls, which were 
slung by cranes and secured on the deck. There were 
in all two bulls and fourteen cows, with two or three 
calves. The difficulty of getting them into their places 
on board terrified them, and for two or three days they 
were timid and unfriendly, but the gentleness of the 
sailors and the frequent little attentions shown them made 
them at last perfectly quiet and really fond of being 
noticed and talked to by those who passed. 

At about four o'clock the ship began to move out 
from the docks, and soon, as we were passing down the 

6 The Soul of Central Africa 

diannel, we saw the last of the English shores as the sun 
was sinking. My cabin was the office of the chief 
engineer; it had a table under the berth, so that, when 
I got my things unpacked, it formed a comfortable 
room. I found there were some twelve other super- 
numerary sailors who, like myself, had secured a passage 
in this way in order to get abroad earlier than they could 
otherwise have done. Among these passengers I soon 
found two or three who became firm friends. 

The /master of our ship was Captain Stirling, whose 
seniority in the service had given him the opportunity of 
important and varied work in the mercantile marine 
during the war. He had run many risks from German 
submarines and from mines, but his ships had escaped 
being sunk, though the grave responsibility and constant 
strain of such work, wdth the loss of countless hours of 
sleep, had told considerably upon his nervous system. 
He proved to be one of the considerate, thoughtful men 
we occasionally meet with in life, and he became a most 
helpful friend to me during the voyage. Each day, after 
we got out to sea, I spent many hours on the captain's 
deck, where I had a chair and could read in comfort. 
At first the sun was not too warm to sit exposed to its 
rays, but we speedily passed into a region where the 
awning was acceptable. The decks of cargo ships are of 
iron and made for rough work, but the captain has a 
deck for his own use, and this was boarded and comfort- 
able for a passenger. 

Life on board ship is so familiar that there is no 
occasion to go into details about it; still, as this was a 
cargo ship, it may be interesting to some readers to 
know how things are done. The number of the crew is 
limited to the bare requirements for working the vessel, 

The Start of the Expedition 7 

so that cleaning of paint and deck-washing have to be 
reduced to a minimum, though a chief officer who takes 
a pride in his ship and its appearance will not allow it to 
get dirty, and will find means to have the decks washed 
down frequently, if not daily. There is, as a rule, good 
accommodation for the members of the crew in the way 
of bath-rooms and other conveniences, and there is an 
air of comfort when the ship gets under weigh and all 
have settled down. 

The duties of officers engaged in working the ship 
are the same as on passenger boats. The chief officer 
seldom keeps his watch alone ; he has one of the appren- 
tices to help him, for, as the general oversight of the 
crew falls on him, he is often called away from the bridge 
to other duties. His .watch is from four to eight in the 
morning, and at the same hours in the afternoon, thus 
allowing him reasonable time for rest at night so that 
he may be available at any time during the day if 
required. The officers have a nice saloon for their mess, 
and can sit there on wet days or during cold weather if 
they wish to enjoy each other's company. 

There are usually two or three apprentices who assist 
the officers in navigating the ship. One of them is 
generally on the bridge, but they have also other duties 
to perform, and studies to carry on in their cabins when 
they leave the bridge at the end of their .watch. Their 
studies and preparation for examination in seamanship 
proceed daily under the supervision of the chief officer. 
In like manner the engineers have duties to perform 
when they leave their watch in the engine-room; the 
machinery must be kept in order, and those of them who 
have higher examinations to pass have to study for them. 
Thus ships' officers have a busy life, which keeps them 

8 The Soul of Central Africa 

from being dull or finding time hang heavy on their 

We supernumeraries .were quite numerous enough 
to be able to form sides for games, and soon deck 
iquoits were in fashion for those who favoured that recrea- 
tion. It has always been my rule to take regular 
exercise in the form of walking for a certain length of 
time each day in the morning and again in the evening, 
and to spend the rest of the day reading and writing. 
I found sufficient room on one of the decks to promenade, 
sometimes alone, at others with an officer or occasionally 
one of the passengers. I had brought with me certain 
books which had reference to the work I had to do, and 
these occupied me for the whole voyage. On board ship 
the novice soon settles down to the routine of life; 
indeed, in a few hours he feels quite at home, and after 
two or three days he does not seem to have had any 
other existence. We had a good wireless installation and 
two operators, one being on duty at all times, and each 
day we thus had bits of information from home until 
we were nearing Cape Verde Islands. This information 
was passed from one to another, and formed a pleasant 
variation to the small talk we had to make at meals. 

At the close of a week we were drawing near our 
first port of call; we had seen little of the unpleasant 
part of the seafarer's life during that time, as we had 
been favoured with good weather. The Bay of Biscay 
did not cause us any inconvenience, for we were too 
far out at sea to feel the usual effects of the troubled 
waters. The first place of call was to be the Cape Verde 
Islands, and we approached them at the end of a week 
on the Sunday evening. The islands are desolate and 
poor — at least, from what jve could see of them as we 

The Start of the Expedition 9 

approached Cape St. Vincent, which was our particular 
port. Bare rock jutting up from the sea was all that 
met the eye until we drew near to our anchorage, in a 
bay shut in from rough winds by the islands between 
which we passed. As we neared we descried a few houses 
on the shore, with here and there what looked like a tree, 
but there was no grass or any green for the eye to rest 
upon. Though it was dusk when we anchored, we could 
see that two ships, with their masts above water, were 
submerged near the shore. We learnt later that these 
vessels had been sunk by a German submarine which 
entered the bay in the early hours one morning, tor- 
pedoed them, and escaped before anyone realized that 
it was about or the fort guns could be turned upon it. 

The Cape Verde Islands belong to the Portuguese, 
and there is a small fort on Cape Vincent, which is the 
base station of the Western cable, and therefore of 
importance; it is also a coaling station for shipping 
passing to Cape Town and America. It is difficult to 
know why the British cable should be on such a very 
desolate island when, we were told, there are other more 
productive places near. We had on board a quantity of 
coal for this station, and one young man who came as 
a passenger with us was to reside there for a period of 
five years. As we had to discharge some five hundred 
tons of coal, we were interested to see what appliances 
there were for the purpose, and were surprised to learn 
that the work had to be done by natives. These shovel 
the coal into large baskets, which are hoisted to the deck, 
and the coal emptied into iron chutes which convey it to 
barges fastened to the ship's side. We could readily 
understand that this jvas going to be a formidable and 
dusty task, lasting about a week. The captain kindly 

10 The Soul of Central Africa 

put up screens to shut out as much dust as possible from 
the upper deck, but what device can shut out coal dust 
when coal is being discharged or loaded? The heat now 
began to tell upon us after the cool weather we had 
experienced, so that the screens made it almost impossible 
to sit on the enclosed deck and read. 

The day after our arrival we noticed an American 
ship of the new wooden type, and made some inquiries 
concerning such vessels. The reply we received was that 
neither the ships nor their engines w^re of great value, 
and would only last about a year, when they would 
become unseaworthy. 

We daily betook ourselves to the island for the pleasure 
of a walk and also to see what the place w^as like. We 
were rowed to the shore, which took about an hour, and 
when w^e landed beggars besieged us and clung to us like 
the pestilential flies which were also abundant. Each 
day there was a crowd of natives on the sea front, some 
of them dressed in the bright prints commonly worn 
in West Africa. The people were all of them either 
West African from the mainland or else drawn from 
the islands near, and they live at this place because of 
the coaling industry, which is evidently lucrative. Many 
of them are fishermen, who not only find a ready sale 
for their fisih when ships call, but do a good trade among 
the people themselves. 

We found one main road, along which we took our 
walks; it was in all some eight miles long, and led to 
the opposite side of the island. The road had been built 
by someone w4th a knowledge of engineering; he had 
taken his levels so as to negotiate the hills and make it 
possible for wheeled traffic to pass that way. There ,was 
no good earth to be seen; all we could trace appeared 

The Start of the Expedition ii 

to be pulverized stone which had been washed down 
from the upper parts of the rocks into the valleys. Yet 
there were small plots of land or gardens under cultiva- 
tion, with feeble plantains, coco-nut palms struggling 
for life, and here and there acacia trees for fences. 
A few of the more energetic inhabitants cultivate a 
little maize and a few vegetables, chiefly cabbages. This 
cultivation is the more remarkable since everything 
requires constant irrigation, Which has to be effected by 
small pumps erected on the plot of land. The pumps 
are worked by little windmills, and keep a constant 
stream of brackish water, drawn from wells sunk in the 
rock, flowing over the gritty surface. It was wonderful 
to see here and there small herds of goats and sometimes 
a cow. The goats browse upon the scanty herbage, 
which has to be sought for carefully or it might be 
overlooked. There can be no doubt that their meals 
have to be augmented by grass and fodder brought from 
the more productive islands. 

The town is small, containing a few shops in two 
short streets, a market square, also with shops round it, 
and the native quarter, which is the nnost insanitary place 
imaginable. The supply of vegetables and fruit comes 
daily from one or other of the islands, and all the fresh 
water for drinking is also brought daily by a small vessel 
which plies to and fro with its tanks. The few European 
houses and the telegraph station face the sea front. The 
residents have a bathing place and tennis and football 
grounds, and thus manage to exist in what seemed to 
us, as visitors, a most dismal spot. 

It was while we were lying at anchor at Cape St. 
Vincent on Saturday, June 28, at two o'clock in the 
afternoon, that we learned that peace had been signed 

12 The Soul of Central Africa 

that day. We were made aware of the fact by the fort 
guns booming forth, and at the same time all the ships 
in harbour began to sound their sirens together. Then 
a small steam launch, sent by the Government, came 
racing round to confirm the news. Soon all work ceased 
and the ships were covered with bunting, while the sirens 
went on sounding for some hours longer, expressing the 
joyous feeling of all in most discordant tones. 

While we were discharging coal a large steamer called 
for coal supplies and water. We learned that she was 
a German ship which had been taken by our Government 
and handed over to the Union Castle Line, and this was 
her maiden voyage. We were further told that she had 
been built by the Kaiser for his own use. Gossip added 
to this that she was to have been the ship in which he 
was to travel round the world visiting his new possessions 
when he had won the war. The name of this monster 
ship was Cappalonia. She had four decks, and many 
modern arrangements for pleasure and exercise, a gym- 
nasium, with various up-to-date appliances, and, finally, 
a promenade on the upper deck for the amusement of 
the passengers and troops on board, where dancing was 
a frequent entertainment. Some of our company went 
on board to inspect her, and returned saying that they 
preferred the cargo ship, with all that they had before 
considered to be her inconveniences, to that magnificent 
vessel. She sailed two or three days before we were 
ready, but when we reached Natal we heard she had 
not reached Cape Town. 

Before the Cappalonia left Cape St. Vincent she had 
to give an account of herself. One night after sunset 
a man-of-war came in with her searchlight showing 
brightly and casting its beams far ahead as it swept the 

The Start of the Expedition 13 

sea in search of hostile ships. She ran to within hailing 
distance of the great vessel to inquire about her, and, 
when she received a satisfactory report, dropped back 
and anchored. It was interesting to see how a man-of- 
war does her work and how beautifully the men can 
handle such ships. 

Before we sailed from the Cape Verde Islands the 
captain called me up one night to settle a question I had 
asked him some days before — whether he had ever seen 
the North Star and the Southern Cross at one and the 
same time. We w^ent to the bridge, and there I saw 
for myself this wonderful sight; to the north was the 
Pole Star shining brightly, and then, turning to the 
south, I beheld the Southern Cross well above the horizon. 
It was a bright, clear sky, with millions of stars visible, 
and would have delighted the heart of any astronomer. 
To me, with my very slight knowledge of the heavens, 
the sight was inspiring. 

The weary stay at St. Vincent came to an end none 
too soon for us; the coal dust was washed from the 
decks, and soon the ship began to assume the appearance 
of never having been degraded to such a task. We were 
able to sit about on deck again and read without any 
feeling of suffocation from dust, and we again heard the 
music of the regular beat of the engines as we made our 
way towards Africa. It was disappointing to learn that 
w^e were not to call at Cape Town, as we had no cargo 
for that port, but were to go straight to Natal. The 
day after leaving the Cape Verde Islands the weather 
became a little cooler, and as we continued our southern 
course it became decidedly cool, and we realized that it 
was now winter in South Africa. After we rounded the 
southern point of the continent, and altered our course 

14 The Soul of Central Africa 

to sail up the east coast, we encountered bad weather, 
and as we proceeded the sea became rougher, until we 
were in a severe storm. This was not my first experience 
of a storm, and did not cause me the least uneasiness, 
but it was a reminder of what the waves can be. The 
wind howled and rain swept over us in torrents, while 
the sea was lashed into mountains of water, rising and 
falling with roars like angry beasts. My cabin soon 
became a chaos ; boxes and chairs were sliding from side 
to side, and had to be arranged in such a way that one 
case secured the next and each prevented the other from 
moving out of place ; everything that could move did so 
until fixed in some way. That evening I found that 
lying in my berth was more comfortable than trying to 
sit in a chair and read. During the night the engines 
had to be stopped, for the waves were so huge that, as 
the bows sank into the hollow, the propeller was raised 
out of the water, and the engines, thus freed, were 
'^racing." After this we went on slowly, moving just 
enough to keep the ship under control. The cessation 
of the thud of the engines waked me, but when I heard 
them go on again I realized that all was well, and did 
not trouble to rise to ascertain the cause. Next morning 
I found that the waves had been so high at one time 
that the captain feared the cattle would be thrown down 
and their Umbs broken or, what was worse, that they 
would be washed overboard. We escaped any such 
accident, though the sea was still running high and the 
weather might still be termed, in nautical phraseology, 
^' dirty." 

When passing East London a signal from the shore 
asked us to look out for a wreck and try to save the crew 
who were on it. It was with considerable difficulty that 

The Start of the Expedition 15 

we were able to take the message, as it was a flag code, 
and we could not easily distinguish the flags through the 
rain and mist. We sailed past, and had to return to 
obtain another view before the officers were satisfied that 
they had read the message aright. We passed on, but 
though a sharp look-out was kept as we proceeded to 
Natal, we saw no wreck nor any sign of wreckage 

As I became more intimate with the officers and they 
became more communicative, I learned some of the 
terrible experiences they had been through during the 
war. Several had been in ships which had been 
torpedoed and sunk, some of their companions being 
drowned. One man had been through such an experi- 
ence twice. He was an engineer, and when the second 
ship was struck he was on duty in the engine-room. He 
remained at his post until the rising of the water warned 
him that the ship was sinking ; he then ran up a ladder 
through the skylight, and jumped overboard as she went 
down. After swimming about for some time, he was 
picked up, with one other man from the ship, these two 
being the only survivors. 

Two other men, who were brothers, were in a ship 
that was attacked by the German raider on the west coast 
of Africa. They described the raider as appearing show- 
ing signals of distress ; the engines were slowed down to 
enable her to come within range, when she ran up her 
true flag, lowered her false sides, and displayed her guns. 
The British captain was not to be daunted, and he 
determined not to yield without making some attempt 
at escape. He therefore ordered the ship to go full steam 
ahead, and at the same time fired upon the raider with 
considerable accuracy. The raider, however, was too 

i6 The Soul of Central Africa 

fast, and gained upon them, firing as she steamed. 
Having crippled their engines, she then sent armed men 
to make the officers prisoners and sink the ship, after 
removing from her everything of value. The members 
of the crew were ordered into their boats, and after a 
time were picked up and kept some days as prisoners on 
the raider. Here they found numbers of other men 
from British ships which had been sunk, who were, 
like themselves, prisoners. All these men were, some 
days later, put on a captured ship and sent, with a 
special German crew, to a neutral port. The captain, 
as he had killed some of the German sailors when he 
fired on them and had done some damage to the ship, 
was kept prisoner on the raider to be taken to Germany. 

One fine afternoon the captain called my attention 
to a desperate fight going on between a shark and a 
whale. For an hour we watched these monsters of the 
deep, the one striving to escape, the other attacking and 
seeking to kill his prey. Whenever the whale rose to 
breathe, the shark leapt out some feet clear of the water 
and tried to come down upon the whale before it had 
time to dive out of danger. The splash was tremendous, 
and we waited a little while to see the result. The whale 
would rise again and spout some distance from the former 
place, and again the great bulk of the shark would be 
seen well in the air, followed by the splash of water. It 
was an exciting race between the two, the one battling 
for life, the other for his prey. We passed out of sight, 
leaving the struggle still raging, and never knew its end. 

On July 19 we reached Natal, and were piloted into 
a beautiful port. It was a great change from the last 
visit I had paid in 1887, when we had to remain at 
anchor some miles outside, and steam launches carried 


The Start of the Expedition 17 

passengers between the ship and the shore. Now we 
went into a fine harbour and tied up to a dock wall. 
Here some of the supernumerary crew ended their 
voyage, while others were uncertain whether they would 
be permitted to go farther by the same ship, as the 
company had only agreed to their going as far as Natal. 
Two of us knew we were to go to Mombasa if the ship 
went there ; she might, however, be ordered to Australia 
for meat. As there were no instructions, the captain 
thought it right to go on, and made preparations for 
so doing. 

In Durban, in addition to the interest of the town 
itself, we had much to watch on board, for here the 
cattle were disembarked and a certain amount of cargo 
was discharged. The cows had become extremely tame 
and docile, but the manner of putting them ashore quite 
unnerved them, for they had to be driven one at a time 
into a box, and then hoisted over the ship's side on to 
the quay, where they were taken out and led away to 
a quarantine camp. All this, with the feeling of firm 
ground again, made one or two of the cows perfectly 
mad, so that six or seven men found it difficult to hold 
them. The bulls, which we expected to prove the more 
difficult, were quiet and lamb-like. The owners were 
there to receive these valuable animals, and were respon- 
sible for landing them and taking them away. They 
were greatly admired by the men who had come for 
them, who pronounced them perfect specimens and 
their condition all that could be desired. 

The ship's officers have their special places in working 

the holds, each officer being in command over and 

responsible for the cargo in a hold, while the chief officer 

is over the entire cargo and has the general control of 

i8 The Soul of Central Africa 

discharging it. Men from the shore, trained for such 
work, come on board to discharge the cargo, and are under 
the orders of skilled men who understand how to load and 
unload ships. The cargo has to be so packed that during 
a gale or in rough seas, when the ship is pitching and 
tossing, it cannot move and endanger the safety of the 
vessel, for, should it shift, the displacement of its weight 
might cause the ship to turn turtle. During the time of 
discharging cargo the goods for the port are taken out, 
and as they go are checked by the officer and also by 
men belonging to the firm of receivers, who certify the 
condition of the goods on arrival. A good stevedore in 
charge can save his company a vast amount of expendi- 
ture by keeping the cranes constantly working, whereas 
a poor stevedore allows them to stand still while his men 
are preparing the goods to be hoisted from the hold. 

The engineers generally have some part of the 
machinery to overhaul during the stay in a port, and 
have to effect repairs which are impossible while the 
engines are working. Thus both officers and engineers, 
when they are in foreign ports, find employment of a 
different character from the usual routine of w^atch and 
navigation duties, though it is no less strenuous. 

I was able to go about Durban to see the town and 
also the museum, where I found some interesting objects 
belonging to South Africa. While we were detained 
discharging cargo the wreck of the sailing vessel Bangkok, 
about which we had heard when passing East London, 
was towed into the harbour by a tug that had been sent 
to look for her ; she had lost her masts and rudder, and 
was found in a waterlogged condition. Her captain 
and two or three men, who were lashed to some part of 
the wreck, were saved. She had sailed from Natal, a 

The Start of the Expedition 19 

week before she encountered the storm, with a cargo 
of heavy wood. When her masts were carried away and 
the steering gear damaged, the captain sent some of his 
crew in an open boat to try to reach land and obtain 
help ; these men had got to East London and reported 
the ship's condition, when a tug at once went to her 

We sailed from Durban carrying two or three of our 
former supernumeraries with the addition of two others 
who had arrived from England on a sister ship. We 
had seen Durban in the height of the season, when 
visitors from Johannesburg and other inland towns come 
to enjoy a holiday at the seaside. Durban was full and 
every place of amusement was as busy as it could be, so! 
that we had been able to see the town at its best. Our 
next port of call was Delagoa Bay, or, as the Portuguese 
call it, Lourengo Marques. From Natal the ship took 
only one day to steam round here. Again I found 
great improvements, and, much to my astonishment, 
the port was quite abreast of the times with its docks 
and harbours, while its machinery for shipping coal was 
even in advance of the best at Cardiff. This appears 
to have been the work of the Germans, who, after visit- 
ing English and other coaling stations, improved the 
methods and appliances in use, bringing the place in 
this respect up to and even beyond any other port in 
the world. I had visited here twice before, and we then 
had to anchor far out at sea and get a rowing boat to 
carry us ashore. I well remembered the backwardness 
and dilatoriness with which everything was done, or 
rather was left undone, at that time. For example, on 
my first visit a railway had been projected and some 
carriages had been landed; four years later they lay in 

ao The Soul of Central Africa 

the same place on the shore, and no attempt had been 
made to remove them or in any way to improve the 
place. Now all that sloth was gone : a fine town, with 
good paved roads, and tramcars running, greeted us ; 
well-cared-for paths and good buildings betokened pros- 
perity. Yet this was the place for which England, not 
many years ago, refused to pay a few pounds ; and now 
it is the coaling port for South Africa, and would be of 
the utmost value to us for this purpose. We were to 
discharge most of our cargo here, and were told we 
should, in all probability, have to stay a week. We were 
preparing accordingly for this rest when we received news 
which at first made us anxious as to the completion of 
our journey. The captain received a cable ordering him 
to coal and proceed direct to Australia for meat. 

While awaiting further news I paid a visit to the 
large crane working the coal trucks, and found a remark- 
able time- and labour-saving method in use. A train 
of loaded trucks is brought, each truck carrying some 
thirty tons of coal. A rope worked from the crane 
engine pulls a truck on to a lift, which rises to a large 
chute and tilts the truck, emptying the coal into the 
chute, which runs into the ship's hold. The crane then 
brings down the truck, which follows its original path 
down a gradient and up an incline till it reaches auto- 
matic points, which open for it on its return journey, 
diverting it to a side line, where an engine takes the 
empty trucks back to the mine to be refilled, thus work- 
ing with the minimum of rolling stock. Coal is tipped 
into the hold at such a speed that men are unable to 
work and stow, or " trim " it; a second hold in the ship 
has therefore to be worked at the same time, and there 
is machinery which quickly moves the ship to and fro. 

The Start of the Expedition 21 

bringing each hold in turn under the chute of the crane, 
and so saving time. 

The news we had received directing us to leave our 
ship and the friendly captain and officers was very trying 
to all of us, as we had greatly enjoyed their companion- 
ship and kindness, and we cast about in our minds how 
we were to reach our destination. A visit to the com- 
pany's agents was reassuring ; from them we learnt that 
a sister ship, the Clan MacQuarrie, was about to sail for 
Mombasa, and was at present taking on a cargo of coal. 
We therefore visited the captain of that ship, and from 
him obtained the promise of the assistance we needed. 
He told us that he .would be sailing in two or, at most, 
three days' time. Thus reassured, we returned to enjoy 
the sights of the place and to learn the mysteries of 
discharging cargo on our own ship. 

There was a quantity of cargo to be dealt with, and 
soon each hatch was opened and the officers were busily 
engaged checking off the crates and packages of all kinds 
and shapes. There were ironware and bars of iron, 
stoves and iron cooking pots, crates of crockery and paint, 
and, worst of all, barrels of tar, many of which had been 
damaged, the liquid leaking into the ship's hold. When 
the sound cases, of tar had been discharged, the men at 
work in the hold had to walk about in some twelve 
inches of escaped tar ; their clothing was soon in a terrible 
mess, while hands and faces were bedaubed with it, yet 
it had to be got out somehow. The deck of the ship 
and the quay near were in a dreadfully slippery state, 
and the harbour-master made the company's agents 
responsible for cleaning the mess away. 

To me it was interesting to see the care that had to 
be taken when cases of spirits were discharged. During 

22 The Soul of Central Africa 

the voyage these eases have to be kept in a special hold, 
which is under the charge of one ofRcer, and is carefully 
locked. This officer told me how necessary it was to 
observe every movement of the men working this cargo, 
because, do what they would, the men found means of 
obtaining some of the spirit. They would drop a case, 
and so break some of the bottles in it, and drink the liquor 
as it ran out, or, if that were prevented, they would drive 
their hauling-hooks through the wood, pierce a bottle, 
catch the spirit in tins, and drink it. During the time 
these cases were being handled the men would strive to 
divert the attention of the officer and broach a case 
without being detected. 

Before we could leave the one ship and join the other 
we had to visit the English Consul to have our names 
transferred to the papers of the new ship. It was late 
at night when we finally took our leave and moved to our 
new quarters. I found I had made some warm friends 
and that the parting was not a mere formal " good-bye," 
but a severance from real friends. Early the next morn- 
ing we steamed away from Delagoa Bay, and were soon 
out of sight of land on the last stage of our voyage. We 
soon learned that Captain Oliver, of our new ship, was 
a kind-hearted man, though of a different type from his 
colleague, especially in the reserve of his nature. I soon, 
however, became on intimate terms with him, and found 
he was no other than the captain, of whom the steward 
of the former ship had told me, who had been a prisoner 
in Germany for firing upon the German raider and trying 
to defend his ship. He told me that during his imprison- 
ment he had for some months to lie on the bare floor of 
his cell, and was treated with great disrespect and cruelty, 
while he daily expected to be shot. He .was then brought 


'-jP' %^^ 


The Start of the Expedition 23 

up before a number of officers when Captain Fryatt was 
being tried, and was asked to state whether he did not 
consider Captain Fryatt to be in the wrong and the 
German verdict, that he should be shot, to be just. He 
reaUzed that his answer, whether for or against Fryatt, 
would be used against himself ; all that Germany wanted 
was something that could be published as having been 
said by another English captain. The answer was charac- 
teristic of the man. He replied : *' I could only decide 
how I should act if placed in similar circumstances." 
This incensed the officers, who would have shot him at 
once, had not the admiral, who was the commander of 
the raider, saved him. After suffering many hardships, 
he was released when the Armistice was signed. 

A voyage of six days brought us to Mombasa. We 
passed Zanzibar during the early hours of the morning, 
keeping well to the north of the island, w^hich I saw in 
the distance as the dawn broke. As we approached 
Mombasa the island on which it stands, with its beautiful 
fringe of trees, came into sight; next we saw numbers 
of well-built houses, looking cool in the shade of large 
trees, and as we neared the port other changes became 
apparent. It is no longer necessary to wait about for 
the tide to carry the ship over the coral reef, as in old 
days when the harbour was on the east side of the island ; 
ships now go at once into Kilindini port, where there 
is always deep water. It is, however, wise to enter when 
the tide is running out, as otherwise a ship may be carried 
along by the current so quickly that she cannot answer 
her helm in time to round the island and follow the 
channel, and is in danger of running ashore. A small 
launch came out with a pilot in answer to our signal, but 
he found it difficult to catch us up, though we were going 

24 The Soul of Central Africa 

slowly, just making enough headway to navigate the 
ship. The course to the anchorage from the open sea is 
tortuous, and we were carried from side to side by the 
current, which was running swiftly. 

We dropped anchor opposite the custom-house, which 
was the most advantageous site at which to discharge 
cargo and take on board goods for England. There is 
still no jetty or anything approaching to a wharf, so 
that cargo has to be transhipped to lighters and taken to 
the shore to be put on board the train. All this handling 
of goods adds to the expense and delay in delivering 
them and also increases the risk of damage. On the 
other hand, great improvements have been made to 
facilitate the loading and unloading of the ships. 

It is a pretty and interesting view; of Mombasa that 
meets the eye as the ship enters the harbour ; the island 
stands well above the sea, and has steep rugged sides 
running down to the beach, which is so narrow that the 
shore is inundated at high water. The slopes of the 
land can be well seen, with the cleared spaces for the 
golf links and the park-like grounds surrounding the 
Government houses. To the north, still on the island, 
are the old ruins of the Portuguese fort, ^while farther 
north the mainland stretches, covered with coco-nut 
palms. To the south again is the mainland, with its 
fringe of trees looking green and fresh, and in the 
farther distance are the Shimba Hills, which now supply 
Mombasa with good water. The new harbour forms a 
much better approach than the old one afforded for any 
person coming to East Africa for the first time. On the 
north side of the island the Arab and native town was 
always unpleasant. The harbour could only be entered 
at high water, and even then careful bearings had to be 

The Start of the Expedition 25 

taken, for the coral reef left only a narrow passage by 
which ships of any size could pass in and out. Upon 
landing there were the dirt and the evil smells common 
to Arab and Eastern towns, which not only offended the 
organs of sense, but also tested the powers of endurance. 
Now, to the south, at Kilindini, there is a clean landing, 
where either motor cars or the old trolly of the Imperial 
British East Africa Company are available to take the 
visitor to the hotel without carrying him into the native 
town at all. We had to go through the usual forms of 
seeing first the doctor and then a passport officer, who 
gave us the necessary permission to land. Though this 
takes time, it is a necessary precaution to prevent 
undesirables from crowding into the new colonies. 



First days in Mombasa — Lewali's Stories — Mombasa and Frere 
Town — Journey to Nairobi — Nairobi — Journey to Lake Victoria 
— Crossing the Lake — Entebbe — Kampala — The . Cathedral — 
History of Kampala — Native Habits and Conditions — Religion 
— Agriculture — Journey to Ankole. 

4T Mombasa I spent a busy week trying to find 

/ % suitable men to accompany me as photographer 

and typist ; but as these were not to be found I 

determined to go on to Nairobi as soon as possible and 

make further inquiries for them. I took no English 

assistants out with me, but trusted to finding natives 

who were sufiiciently trained for my purpose. In this I 

was not very successful, for the boys I got, with the 

exception of my excellent cook and his assistant, were 

not of much use. I felt, however, that the presence of 

a second white man might, as well as adding greatly to 

the expenses of the expedition, have the effect of making 

the natives less communicative. 

We passengers who had signed articles as members 

of the ship's crew had to go to the Consulate and sign 

the official papers stating that we were leaving the 

ship; and there were many other things to be done in 

Mombasa. I found there a few old friends, among them 

the Provincial Commissioner, from whom I learned many 

things concerning those of the Galla peoples who are 

said to live near the coast. He told me that there are 


Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 27 

now only a few of these people scattered among some 
of the more prosperous tribes, among whom they live, 
two or three together, and work as herdsmen to the 

One afternoon I spent with the Arab Lewali, the 
native Governor of Mombasa, who told me some amusing 
stories about the Germans and their treatment of certain 
natives whom they suspected of being disloyal to them- 
selves and friendly to the Sultan of Zanzibar. When 
he learned that, at the beginning of the German occupa- 
tion in 1888, the Germans had refused to hand over our 
ransom and I had therefore been a prisoner with the 
Arabs in Bagamoyo, an incident which I have described 
in '' Twenty-five Years in Africa," he was more 

He told an amusing story of a trader who was sus- 
pected of having killed a German. One trader was 
jealous of a neighbour more prosperous than himself, 
and for a time he sought, but in vain, some means to rid 
himself of this rival. One day a murder was committed 
and, though a prolonged search was made, the murderer 
could not be found. The trader saw his chance of getting 
rid of his rival and determined to seize it. He went 
secretly to the German officer, told him that he knew 
who had committed the murder, and gave the name of 
his rival as the culprit. The officer immediately sent a 
guard and arrested the man, who was ignorant of the 
cause of his arrest until told in prison of the charge 
against him. When brought before the judge for trial 
he realized that there was no possibiHty of escape, that 
his word would not be taken nor his witnesses accepted. 
He learned, further, who had accused him of being the 
murderer, and saw that his case wa^ hopeless. There 

28 The Soul of Central Africa 

was still, however, a means of revenge — to implicate the 
man who had accused him. When he was again brought 
up for trial he said to the judge : " That man only knows 
that I am the murderer because he helped me. He held 
the feet of the German while I cut his throat." As a 
result the informant was also imprisoned, tried, and 
condemned to death with the accused man — and neither 
of them had in reality committed the crime. 

Another good story he told concerned the first Sultan 
of Zanzibar and how he came to marry the daughter of 
the Shah of Persia. It happened at the time when the 
Sultan had become conqueror of Zanzibar and the coast 
of East Africa, that he went to his small possessions in 
Arabia and sent to the Shah requesting the hand of his 
daughter in marriage. The request being scornfully 
rejected, the Sultan, who had just returned from some 
victories in Africa, was highly incensed. Unable for a 
time to find any means of pressing his claim, he nursed 
his resentment until at length he heard that the Shah 
was about to make a pilgrimage to Mecca with his wife 
and daughter. Here .was his chance. Some of his vessels 
were quickly prepared and armed, and he set out to 
waylay the Shah. In a few days the Persian vessel came 
in sight and was attacked by the Sultan's ships. After 
a short battle the Shah and his wife and daughter were 
made prisoners and carried to the Sultan's port. The 
Shah was then glad enough to come to terms with his 
captor, giving him his daughter in marriage as a ransom 
for himself and his wife. Thus the Sultan at once 
avenged the insult he had received and gained his desire. 

The Lewali has many excellent stories relating to 
the early history of places along the east coast, and his 
father holds a letter from the captain of the first British 

Mombasa— Nairobi — Kampala 29 

man-of-war that came to Africa. The father was an 
important chief at a town north of Mombasa and 
suppHed the man-of-war with fresh water and meat. 
He was paid in full for the stores, and a letter, thank- 
ing him for what he had done, was given to him. 

At the end of a week I found that the climate of 
Mombasa was beginning to try my nervous system. The 
discovery was not pleasant and made me wonder whether 
the heat would be too trying for me and thus bring 
the expedition to an early close. The best plan I could 
conceive was to hasten to the interior and try whether 
the higher ground would suit me better. 

Before leaving Mombasa, however, a few words about 
the island may be welcome. The visitor of to-day can 
hardly realize what a change has taken place since the 
early days before the British East Africa Company 
settled there, or even since, at a later date, it became 
the terminus of the Uganda Railway. Many people 
spend a few days there before passing into the interior 
without even being aware that they are on an island. 

In the early days visitors went to Mombasa by ferry 
from Frere Town to see the ruins of the ancient Portu- 
guese fort, which was destroyed in 1631, partially rebuilt 
a few years later, and is now a prison. Another sight 
of interest is the old fort on the north-east point of the 
island which, though not often visited now, has some 
peculiar features. A staircase cut in the rock, which 
is invisible to anyone outside the fort, leads down to the 
shore, or, when the tide is in, to the water. If I 
remember aright this entrance can only be reached by 
water, as that part of the shore is cut off by a point of 
rock. The fort itself, on the peak, is overgrown with 
grass and many of the stones of its walls have been 

30 The Soul of Central Africa 

rompved and used in other buildings. The native town, 
however, with its dirt and smell, had little attraction, and 
Frere Town, then the show place, was where the visitors 
stayed. In Mombasa there were no European houses, 
and an Arab house is pointed out as the residence of 
the first missionaries, Krapf and Redman. \ 

Frere Town was then a thriving station of the 
Church Missionary Society, and, as there was a large 
settlement of freed slaves, a school was established for 
training them to work and earn their own living. It 
was here also that the bishop had his headquarters when 
the diocese included Uganda. Bishop Hannington, the 
first Bishop of Central Africa, resided in Frere Town 
and started from there on his fatal journey to Uganda. 
The dangerous part of the route he passed through safely, 
but when his dilHBculties might have been considered at 
an end he fell through the enmity of Mwanga, King of 
Uganda, whom he had every reason to trust as his friend. 
Farther round the point to the north, on the mainland 
opposite to Mombasa, is the graveyard where the wives of 
the pioneer missionaries, Krapf and Redman, are buried. 
This sacred spot is to-<lay little known and seldom 
visited by Europeans. Frere Town has dwindled to an 
insignificant mission station where now only one or two 
English people live. 

The work of the mission has been transferred to 
Mombasa, where the Hannington-Parker Memorial 
Cathedral w^as built. Here the Bishop of Mombasa had 
his headquarters after he moved from Frere Town in 
order to be near the centre of activity. He has now 
been compelled for the same reason, that is, the move- 
ment of the centre of British Government, to follow the 
flow of Europeans to Nairobi, and the only part of the 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 31 

mission organization which still flourishes is the Buxton 
'School, which is doing excellent .work among the cosmo- 
politan population of the island. 

At Mombasa, too, were the headquarters of the British 
East Africa Company when it began its operations. 
For a time the Arab town was the only place in which 
they could find accommodation, but later on houses were 
built on the higher parts of the island outside the native 
town, and there the Europeans speedily congregated. 
Before the British Government decided to make British 
East Africa a Protectorate a small railway for light cars 
or trollies had been laid to carry passengers to and from 
their offices. When the Protectorate was formed Mom- 
basa became an important port and for some years the 
white population grew rapidly. The island was soon 
connected by the Uganda Railway with the mainland, 
and the number of people engaged on railway work 
greatly increased the population. 

The excessive and usually moist heat of Mombasa, 
however, makes the place trying to Europeans, though 
some who have been there many years affirm it to be 
not unhealthy, and even to be good for white men. 
These, however, are perhaps only the few who, being 
more robust, could have been well anywhere. When 
the railway opened up the country the highlands of 
Nairobi began to attract the British resident, who decided 
to make that his headquarters. The site was undoubtedly 
more attractive. There was room for expansion, it was 
more healthy and less trying for Europeans, and it was 
more central for the Protectorate. The removal of the 
staff and the decision of the railway to make Nairobi 
their base for working the line to Lake Victoria soon 
caused a general exodus from Mombasa to the highlands. 

32 The Soul of Central Africa 

The town of Mombasa has now dwindled to the few 
residents who require to be on the coast for the shipping 
and railway work, and it is the headquarters of the 
Administrative Officer for the coast district and province. 
The European quarters are on the southern side, and 
extend from the higher part to the port, Kilindini. The 
island is not more than three miles long and a;bout half 
as wide, and more than half of this is taken up by the 
residences of the white population and their recreation 
grounds. The native town continues to attract multi- 
tudes, and the population is very cosmopohtan. There 
are Arabs and natives from almost every part of Africa ; 
there are Indians of all types and classes, attracted from 
many parts of India by reports of the possibilities of 
trading and growing rich in a short time at the expense 
of the African ; of the Western or white races it would 
be difficult to name the people not represented there. 

Though people who have lived on the island for a 
number of years speak of it as a pleasant place and of 
the climate as good, I confess I never visit it without 
longing to get away quickly from the trying heat and 
pitying the " washed-out " looking people who live there. 
In the early days of the European residents the only 
fresh water was rain water, which was caught as it ran 
from the roofs of the houses, carefully stored in large 
cisterns built in the ground, and strictly reserved for 
drinking purposes. Since the British Government 
brought fresh water from the Shimba Hills there has 
been a great improvement in the comfort of the com- 
munity in this respect; but, to anyone who knows the 
interior, Mombasa remains a place to be tolerated only 
until he can move on to the uplands. 

It was now evident to me that I must get away from 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 33 

Mombasa if I was to be able to remain in Africa long 
enough to complete the work of the expedition I had 
undertaken. It was, therefore, with a sense of relief 
that I went to join the train at the station and booked 
for Nairobi, without the long delay of those former days 
when it was necessary to engage porters before com- 
mencing the march to Uganda. When the train had 
left the town and the mainland began to show itself, 
with its trees and grass and the usual signs of unculti- 
vated land, a sense of satisfaction stole over me, and 
the freedom from the moisture of the coast belt soon 
became perceptible. 

The journey by rail is not in the least formidable, 
though now it behoves the traveller to keep a sharp 
watch over his goods. Thefts from the carriages are 
frequent, and it is not only when the carriages are left 
unguarded during meals and stoppages that these experts 
manage to pilfer — they will rob you by night while you 
are in your compartment. The comfort and ease of the 
carriages is equal to that of any English railway, while 
the stops at the food-bungalows are so arranged that 
the train runs into the station just in time for a meal, 
and kindly waits while you enjoy your dinner or what- 
ever meal you wish to take. The guard informs you 
when the next stop will be, and until then you can be 
comfortable in your coach and amuse yourself as you 

For me there was the attraction of the changed face 
of the countryside as we journeyed. In former times I 
knew the long stretches of the country as waste land, but 
now we were continually passing through the cultivated 
farmsteads of European settlers, with here and there 
well-built houses and plantations of trees, in marked con- 

34 The Soul of Central Africa 

trast to the .wilder parts. No.w and again we passed 
lorries drawn by oxen, evidently journeying to one of 
the railway depots, or, as we neared some homestead in 
the evening, we saw the cattle returning home for the 
night. This seemed .wonderfully strange in those places 
where I could remember the weariness of long journeys 
on foot with seldom even a native village to which one 
might go for water or to purchase some article of food, 
such as a fowl, a native necessity which, however, when 
intended for my table, sold at a high price as a luxury. 
Now at nightfall the rugs were spread, the dust-shutters 
drawn, the seat turned into a bed, and soon sleep relieved 
the weary hours as the train journeyed on. In the early 
morning we stopped for a few minutes at a station where 
it was possible to procure a cup of tea, and then on ,we 
went until breakfast time, when we had a reasonable 
pause at one of the Indian bungalows. 

The country from this point on to Nairobi is full 
of animal life, the Athi Plain being the part where 
animals of almost every description peculiar to Africa 
roam about in the preserves. There are large herds of 
zebra, antelopes of various kinds, wild pigs, an occasional 
lion in the distance, on rarer occasions one or two giraffe 
jvith their heads well in the air, and ostriches feeding or 
making off with long strides. A remarkable feature is 
their fearlessness of the trains; in many instances the 
animals simply raise their heads to gaze on the train, 
and then continue grazing, just as a number of cows 
would do at home. Sometimes there are animals on 
the permanent way, and the driver has to sound his 
steam whistle to frighten them off. 

I remember this neighbourhood in the past, when it 
was more noted for lions than nowadays. On one 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 35 

occasion, ,when we were camped for the night near the 
Athi River, Uons were prowling about, and the men, 
getting nervous lest they should spring amongst them, 
begged me to move farther away. So I had to strike 
camp at midnight and march some ten miles to another 
place. Fortunately, it was moonlight, and the walk, 
when once I had left my comfortable bed and taken 
some light refreshment, was not really unpleasant. 

In due time Nairobi was reached and I was struck by 
the extraordinary growth of the place with its substantial 
houses, shops and offices, with their stone walls, and its 
hotels with all the comforts of civilization, which almost 
make you forget you are in Africa until the heat of 
the sun brings the fact back to you. Here are streets 
of dwelling-houses, banks, shops, and even a theatre 
standing out with its attractions; then farther on there 
is the church, while the residences of the Governor and 
the better class are on the higher ground. There are 
various open spaces for recreation and games, not least 
among them being the race-course with its stand. The 
worst feature of the town is the streets and roads, which 
are far inferior to the buildings and not only decidedly 
detract from the appearance of the place, but are quite 
insanitary. On one side is the native town, separated 
from the European and thus giving more freedom to 
the people to live their own lives without annoying the 
Western races by their Eastern customs. Nairobi is no 
longer the vast empty plain upon which I first camped ; 
then, in all the wide expanse over which the eye could 
travel before the view was obstructed by trees, one grass 
hut was the only dwelling in sight. 

It was from this district that I made my first journey 
by rail to the coast. Starting from the other side of the 

36 The Soul of Central Africa 

Mau Escarpment I went as far as Nairobi in a covered 
iron truck, a mode of travel that was a luxury in those 
days. My tent awning was hung as a screen to form a 
bedroom, while another part of the tent served to shut 
the boys out of my sitting-room, which was by the open 
door where, sitting in a deck-chair, I enjoyed the air 
and could read. The boys cooked my food in their part, 
and at night I retired to bed in my part of the truck. 
When I thought of those weary marches day after day, 
when fifteen miles was a good journey, what a luxury 
it seemed to sit in a train which could cover that distance 
easily in a few minutes ! Still those old days of slow 
marching had their pleasures, even their fascinations, 
with the cheery porters and the excitement of some 
adventure to be met or some difficulty to be overcome. 

The few days spent at Nairobi were full of work, 
but it was not possible to find the men required for the 
expedition, so when the next train for the interior arrived 
I made ready to go on to Lake Victoria. Nairobi, being 
the headquarters for the railway, has wonderful workshops 
where every kind of repair to the machinery or rolling 
stock connected with the railway can be carried out. 
With its vast system of lines and signal-boxes and its 
many workmen busy with all kinds of railway repairs, 
this is the Crewe of the Uganda Railway. 

The rise in altitude from the coast is so gradual as 
to be almost unnoticeable except for the fresh feeling 
in the air which invigorates the traveller. In Nairobi 
the height is about 4,500 feet, the nights are cool and 
the days not oppressive. The heat may register as high 
as 80° in the shade without causing languor, and in the 
morning and evening a healthy person feels even brisk. 
The land continues to rise until the top of Mau Escarp- 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 37 

ment is reached at some 8,000 feet above sea level, whence 
it falls again to the lake at 4,000 feet. 

There are differences of opinion respecting the suita- 
bility of the climate for European settlers and their 
families. Some maintain that children born there may 
enjoy as good health as in England, whilst others of the 
older school are convinced that they need to return to 
the cool English climate periodically. I learned that 
there was a growing feeling among the people in general 
that a change, even to the coast, was good. Schools for 
the Enghsh children have been opened and are flourish- 
ing, but the adverse mental and moral influences of the 
environment are, I think, another reason for their being 
educated in England. My personal experience leads me 
to think that it will always be advisable, after a number 
of years in the tropics, for one to seek a change to a cool 
climate in order to restore the tone of the nervous system. 

The progress in the environs of Nairobi is perhaps 
even more wonderful than in the town. The farms of 
the settlers stretch for miles on every side. Time did 
not permit me to make journeys far out of town, and I 
had to be content with seeing the extension of these 
settlements from the train as we passed along to the 
interior. Seen thus, the constant succession of fields and 
houses leaves the impression of a large population of 
planters in the highlands. It was indeed striking to see 
the fields stretching as far as the eye could reach on 
either side of the railway as we ascended the escarpment 
from the town. There appears to be little land left 
unoccupied all the way from Nairobi till the dip down 
to Lake Victoria is reached. 

On reaching the lake side of the escarpment, however, 
all travellers with a love for beautiful scenery must feel 

38 The Soul of Central Africa 

regret at the utilitarian destruction of the picturesque 
country. Once the railway passed through beautiful 
woods which, with their fine trees, ferns and creepers, 
.wpre well worth a visit. These have been destroyed to 
supply fuel for the railway, and bare mountains now 
meet the gaze where formerly there were glades with 
waterfalls whose sides were covered with the most 
beautiful ferns and tropical plants. This side of the 
escarpment as viewed from the railway has, for any lover 
of nature and landscape beauty, lost all attractiveness 
and become an eyesore, when a little care and fore- 
thought might have preserved it as one of the beauties 
of the railway journey. 

At Lake Victoria the train runs into the station 
where a line takes your carriage alongside the steamer 
which is to convey you over to Uganda. There is no 
effort or trouble for you beyond stepping from your 
coach on to the steamer. Porters carry your baggage, 
and all you have to do is to find your cabin, give your 
order for the goods you require in it, and then take 
your place in the saloon, as the train runs you into the 
station just in time for breakfast. In a short time the 
passengers with their baggage are on board, the order 
to cast off from the wharf is given, the engines start, 
chains and ropes rattle, the ship moves away from her 
berth, and your voyage on the mighty lake begins. 

For some two or three hours as you move along the 
creek to the open lake the scenery is not impressive. 
The shore of Kavirondo is low-lying and the mountains 
in the background are too far distant for you to see 
more than their general shape. When, however, you 
pass near some of the islands the tropical beauty of the 
trees and the grass begins to impress you. The birds on 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 39 

the trees are of such variety that the most unobservant 
are at once attracted to the side of the ship to watch 
them. Then, as you pass along, you come upon small 
rocky islets with cormorants and various fish-eating birds 
upon them, and here and there a fish-eagle, which sounds 
forth its somewhat mournful note. You begin now to 
feel the fascination of this wild life. The divers seem 
to be hung out to dry on the trees as they stand motion- 
less with heads erect and outstretched wings, only now 
and again showing any sign of life. Overhead beautiful 
kingfishers hover as if suspended by invisible strings, 
their tiny wings fluttering rapidly. Then you may see 
a crocodile basking upon some rock; he lets you come 
quite close to him and then flounders into the water with 
a great splash, leaving nothing to be seen but ripples, or 
perhaps the black line which is the ridge of his back. 
If you are fortunate you may see, far away in the shallow 
water near an island, one or more hippopotami taking a 
leisurely bath. You can see them rise up and puff away 
the water before sinking again out of sight. 

At night the ship has to come to an anchorage beside 
one of the islands, for, as the lake has no lights, the sub- 
merged rocks make it unsafe and unwise to go on in 
the dark. The quiet is pleasant, but it is not always 
comfortable near an island. The mosquitoes may pay 
you a visit and irritate you until you find it wise to 
retire under the protecting net. In the early morning — 
very early if there is a moon — the sailors are about, and 
in a short time the ship resumes hej* course towards the 
Uganda coast. 

On approaching Entebbe station you see first the roofs 
of the buildings, which are visible an hour or more before 
you reach the land. It is always a little exciting to see 

40 The Soul of Central Africa 

those places which now wear the garb of civilization and 
are so different from what they were in those early days 
when there was nothing but the virgin forest. The 
shores and islands were well peopled before the sleeping 
sickness made it necessary to remove the inhabitants, and 
in those early days the islands showed signs of life and 
activity. People were frequently to be seen passing to 
and fro between island and island, or from the islands 
to the mainland in canoes, trading or doing other business. 
To-day there is seldom a canoe to be seen, and not until 
the shore of the mainland is neared is any life perceptible. 
When in Ankole I was interested to hear that an attempt 
was being made to re-people two or three islands as an 
experiment. Investigation having shown the flies (Glos- 
sina palpalis) to be free from trypanosoma, medical 
opinion has favoured, in a few cases, this attempt at 

When we were near enough to the coast of Uganda 
to distinguish the buildings, I could see that great 
changes had been made during the last ten years. Now 
there is a wharf, where the ship can tie up and discharge 
her cargo into the custom-house without the expense 
and delay of lighters. Travellers also pass direct to the 
custom-house, and thence to the motor cars or other con- 
veyances which await them. Those who wish to save time 
can use the large Government van, which takes passengers 
and luggage to Kampala, instead of waiting for the ship 
to sail round in the evening. In the general plan of 
Entebbe no great changes struck me, though there were 
developments in detail and many new houses had been 
built. Government House is now on a hill, thus enjoy- 
ing more air and a better view than the Governor's 
former house, which was much lower, near the lake shore. 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 41 

As much of the trade has been diverted to Kampala, the 
town has dwindled, leaving only a few shops belonging 
to Indian occupants, and almost all the residents are 
connected with the Government in one capacity or 
another. The native town hes to the north, two or 
more miles distant from the European settlement. After 
making a few inquiries about the place, I determined 
to take a motor to Namirembe Kampala to spend a few 
days with a friend. The drive of twenty-two miles was 
soon over; my native driver seemed to know both his 
machine and the road, and we arrived in an hour's time. 
I had arranged to stay a month in Kampala with an 
old friend. Archdeacon G. K. Baskerville, at the C.M.S. 
Mission, in order to fulfil my first engagement for the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, who had entrusted me with 
a letter to the Bishop of Uganda to be read at the open- 
ing of the new cathedral. The first church I attended 
in Kampala, many years ago, was entirely of reed and 
thatch, and could seat about eight hundred people. It 
was low and dark, as the roof came far down to keep 
out the driving rain during the wet season. The 
windows were holes cut in the reed walls, and the floor 
was beaten earth, which was extremely dusty. The 
church was built on the lower slopes of the hill Nami- 
rembe, and we missionaries lived in grass houses near by. 
Every Sunday the congregation, numbering from two to 
three thousand, crowded into and around this church. 
When they were packed in, they sat on their rugs of 
skin, and it was impossible to get out until those near 
the doorway first got away. After an hour in the church 
the air was vitiated and stifling, and when, at the close 
of the service, the people rose to leave, the dust was 
suffocating. When we got our second church, also of 

42 The Soul of Central Africa 

reed and thatch, but built on the summit of the hill, the 
pride of the people was great and our joy was likewise 
intense. We now had a building that would seat com- 
fortably nearly four thousand, and it had often to accom- 
modate five. Inside there was a forest of pillars, but the 
rows were regular, and from any point of view the align- 
ment was wonderfully good. Then, too, there was more 
light and air. For some years this building lasted, and 
then the poles rotted, and a heavy storm blew it down. 
Archdeacon Walker was in it at the time, with a class 
of about a hundred, all of whom had wonderful escapes 
from the falling edifice. Later on a third church, a fine 
building of sun-dried bricks with a thatched roof, was 
built. This was a wonderful place, seating upwards of 
four thousand. The builder was Mr. Borup, the energetic 
Industrial Mission Superintendent, who has done much 
for Uganda in teaching brickmaking and carpentering, 
and who also started cotton- and rubber-growing. 

When this third church was consecrated as a cathedral 
by the Right Reverend A. R. Tucker, the first Bishop 
of the diocese of Uganda, I was in charge of it, and 
had to make arrangements for the service. The multi- 
tude of natives who attended was extraordinary. Though 
the service did not begin till 8 a.m., the building was 
packed by 6.30, and the people remained until nearly 
3 P.M. The offertory that day was remarkable ; it took 
fully an hour to collect the alms. There were cows, 
goats, sheep and fowls, all alive, and we had difficulty 
in restraining the people from dragging them to the altar 
over the heads of the congregation seated on the fioor. 
The currency contributed consisted of rupees, cents and 
cowry-shells. I was in the cathedral from 6.30 a.m. 
until 3 P.M. without rest or food. When I set two men 

Mombasa — Nairobi— Kampala 43 

to count the collection, it took them a little over a 
month to do so. 

This cathedral was struck by lightning and burned 
down, and in its place a fourth, the present edifice, was 
built. This is a stone and brick building, and was erected 
at so great a cost that the native resources were crippled, 
and a debt still remains on the building. 

I stayed in Kampala for a time, seeking men to go 
with me on the expedition as photographer, typist and 
botanist. After some days I found two or three who 
professed to be able to type and who, further, claimed 
to know English. These men were carefully tested, but 
one after another they had to be dismissed as incom- 
petent. The botanist was both idle and conceited, and 
was altogether useless. The man whom I tried as photo- 
grapher was said to be the best of all who applied, and 
he could not even open the camera, because, as he said, 
it was a different pattern from what he had used. 

While these men were being tested I had time to 
visit a few old friends among the natives and learn from 
them what changes had taken place in the native capital. 
I was struck by the pronounced survival of heathen 
customs. These were of a worse type even than when 
Lubarism was in full sway, because then there were many 
inherited beliefs, and a genuine zeal for that faith sup- 
ported morality. As an effect of civilization, the belief 
in ghosts and in the old gods, with the intense dread 
of magic, have gone, while sexual laxity, theft and 
drunkenness have, since the breakdown of the old social 
customs which restrained them, grown to an alarming 
extent. The removal of the theological college to a 
place in the country has deprived the capital of a strong 
band of Christian men whose lives and influence had a 

44 The Soul of Central Africa 

good effect on the families of the residents. Again, the 
increased demand for labour carries away many men 
beyond the sphere of Christian influence to surroundings 
where they often get low conceptions of civilization and 
Christianity. The congregations at the daily services 
in the cathedral have dwindled down to about twenty, 
persons, of whom the majority are women in training to 
become Bible women. To me the whole life of the Church 
in the capital was depressing ; it had sunk to a low ebb. 

Possibly the greatest change in Kampala is the 
presence of many European settlers and shopkeepers; 
there is now a regular town, and many of the shops 
have English staffs, with natives to do the rough work. 
Some of the shops and the post office have women 
assistants and clerks, who carry on business in much the 
same manner as in England. Two banks had been started 
in my absence, a new post office had been built, and there 
is also a large new hotel. The streets and roads are not 
yet very good, but they are being built and metalled so 
that motor cars and bicycles can run with ease. A neat 
little church has been built for the English community, 
and its clergyman is one of the Mission staff. The native 
town is in a flourishing condition, and there is a railway 
which connects it with the lake steamers some eight 
miles distant. 

The real Kampala, which was the fort during the first 
years of the Uganda Protectorate, has now been turned 
into a museum for native objects of interest. There does 
not seem to be much enthusiasm connected with this 
museum and it does not grow rapidly, nor do the best 
objects for preservation find their way to it. It is this 
Kampala, and not Nakasero, the hill of the new town, 
that has the history. Here it was that the British East 

Mombasa— 'Nairobi— Kampala 45 

Africa Company first settled, and this was for some 
years the home of the Government. When the British 
Government took over the country it was at this old 
Kampala that Sir Gerald Portal made his treaty with 
the natives. Various native risings had their centre about 
this place, one party defending it, and the other attack- 
ing. Again, when the Sudanese troops mutinied, they 
sought to take Kampala and to murder the Resident. 
Now the whole Government has been moved to a bigger 
and higher hill known as Nakasero, but as the post office 
was registered in London under its original name, it still 
retains the old name of Kampala. 

The native capital commonly goes by the name of 
Mengo, and the residence of the king, or Kabaka, is 
known as Mbuga, a name which is used to signify not 
only the regular royal enclosure on the top of the hill 
Mengo, but any place where the king happens to be 
in residence. Daudi Chwa, the present Kabaka, is still 
a boy of some twenty years. He is the son of Mwanga, 
and grandson of that famous Kabaka, Mutesa, who 
entertained Stanley and so interested him that he wrote 
his well-known letter calling upon English Christians to 
send missionaries. This attracted the attention of the 
Christian world, and the first Christian missionaries were 
sent there. It was in those days a fine native town, 
extending from the Kabaka 's enclosure on the top of 
the hill Mengo fully a mile to the north, east and west, 
with well-kept roads fenced on each side with elephant- 
grass and tidy courtyards to each enclosure, but it has 
now become a somewhat neglected and untidy place. 
The fences are broken down, the roads need repair, and 
in many places there are large forlorn-looking houses, 
with untidy courtyards and walls and doors, which look 

46 The Soul of Central Africa 

the picture of neglect. The Kabaka's own courtyard is 
another spectacle of untidiness, and his fences and drive 
need considerable repairs. Such a condition of affairs 
could not have come into being during the days of 
Mutesa, or in Mwanga's time, unless the country had 
been at war. The change is hardly an improvement on 
the former state or worthy of British rule. There may 
be, and I do not doubt that there is, much more freedom 
and greater ease for the poorer class. Still, to an onlooker 
who had known something of the former days when the 
old regime prevailed, much was felt to be lacking in the 
town and in the houses, both in respect of attractiveness 
and cleanliness. 

As for the manners of the people, there can be no 
question of the superiority of the old days. Now you 
may pass along the roads and no one gives you a greet- 
ing; indeed, natives pass natives without so much as 
speaking. Again, women stare at you and make impu- 
dent remarks, certainly not an admirable habit. In the 
olden days a woman would never dare to address any 
man, and, had he spoken to her, she would have knelt 
down to answer. If she were carrying a burden which 
prevented her from kneeling, she would have answered : 
" I am unable to speak; I have a load." There would 
have been respect, not impertinence. As I was no longer 
known to many of the inhabitants in Kampala, and was 
regarded as a foreigner who did not understand the 
language, I had an opportunity when going about of 
overhearing remarks which I should not otherwise have 
heard. These remarks were not always to the credit of 
the British, but they were much to the discredit of the 
native. It was sad to hear such things from a people 
who used to be so polite that they even thanked you 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 47 

for being well-dressed, or, if two Europeans were walk- 
ing together, for walking in step. Workmen, on being 
thanked, in accordance with the old custom, for carrying 
loads or for doing any work, seemed surprised. While, 
however, the younger generation has largely fallen into 
these bad ways, there are exceptions, and it was a 
pleasure to find a few of the older people who still 
adhered to the courteous usages of former times. 

There are fine instances, too, of Christian fervour to 
be found in the native Churdh, men who have not joined 
in the rush for riches, but are content to go on as before, 
teaching their heathen brethren for the merest pittance. 
There are still, too, a few chiefs of the old stamp who 
hold ofiice in order to do what good they can to their 
land and people. It is the younger generation who are 
taking as their pattern foreign settlers and traders and 
following the example set by their conduct, which is not 
always worthy of imitation. 

While in Kampala I heard a most extraordinary 
sermon from a preacher belonging to the religious sect 
known as " Bamalaki," with whom I shall deal more 
fully later. Their belief seems to be a mixture of 
Judaism, Christianity, and Christian Science. The 
preacher spoke against immorality, maintaining as sound 
the teaching of his sect that a man may have two or 
even four wives, but that beyond these he must have 
no dealings with women. He ended by placing Christ 
crucified before the audience as the only means of salva- 
tion. Though their teaching abounds in culpable errors 
and chronological accuracy is cast to the winds, there are 
among them some fine characters who might, with 
patient sympathy, be enlightened and persuaded to 
abandon these false beliefs. 

48 The Soul of Central Africa 

Kampala has been undergoing considerable change in 
its system of agriculture. The natives have been clearing 
the natural waterways and allowing stagnant pools to run 
dry. As many of the swamps round the district have 
disappeared, this should be entirely beneficial to the 
health of the place, but the change will undoubtedly have 
an unfavourable effect upon the vegetation. Already 
there is reported to be a disease among the plantains. 
This is attributed by superstitious natives to the intro- 
duction of the locomotive and railway; whenever the 
whistle sounds, they say, the grubs become active and 
eat the roots of their trees. It is probable that the 
disease is due partly to the drainage, which must affect 
the humidity and thus the vegetable life, and partly to 
many years of growth on the same ground. In the days 
of Mwanga, and farther back in times before the memory 
of living man, the custom was for the king to change his 
capital every few years. The chiefs had to move with 
him, and so new land was brought under the spade and 
the plantains had fresh soil and grew freely. 

A month at Kampala passed quickly, and I was faced 
by the problem of getting porters to carry my loads into 
Ankole. I found the labour question full of difficulties, 
and my old friend the Katikiro could not help me. I 
was thrown upon the experiment of a motor lorry, which 
I was told would carry all the loads necessary, while I 
myself could go by car in a day. This sounded promising, 
but when it came to the point, though I had made a 
contract with a firm, they failed to carry it out, and 
there was no lorry available. At length, in despair, I 
sallied forth with two motor cars, leaving almost every- 
thing behind, and hoping to find men in Ankole who 
might be sent back for my goods. At the last moment 



Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 49 

I was fortunate enough to secure a seat for myself in , 
another car going to Ankole. My own two were filled 
with the goods and boys, and one morning at ten o'clock 
we started out. 

We were doomed to many trials on the way. First, 
the roads were only tracks where the grass had been 
cleared to a sufficient width for a car to run along. 
These were passable in dry weather, but after a shower 
of tropical rain became soft and entirely impossible for 
traffic. We had a rainstorm soon after starting, and 
our car stopped short in a low-lying part of the road. I 
was told that the sparking plug was wet, and we should 
have to sit still until the rain ceased. The storm lasted 
over an hour, and then the track was so soft and slushy 
that the wheels slipped round and we made no progress. 
We had to get out and wade in the slush, pushing the car, 
until a little solid ground was reached and we could get 
on again for a few miles. Soon we came to another 
depression, where again the wheels could not grip, and 
we had to wade out and push. I had been told that we 
should reach our destination in one day, though the 
distance was one hundred and fifty miles. Now, how- 
ever, it was evident that we would have to stop on the 
road, so we tried to reach some Government station in 
order to avoid sitting in the car all night. By a supreme 
effort and by travelling in the dark until seven o'clock, 
we reached Masaka, a station about half-way to Ankole, 
and threw ourselves on the mercy of the Administrative 
Officer, who not only showed us hospitality, but provided 
me with all my requirements for the night. We had got 
separated from the other cars soon after leaving Kampala, 
and saw nothing more of them that day, so, as one of 
them carried my camp outfit, I had nothing with me. 

50 The Soul of Central Africa 

However, Mr. Rubie kindly supplied me with all neces- 
saries, and I spent a comfortable night. 

Early the next morning the motor driver told me 
that my two cars had passed in the dawn and gone on. 
We took leave of our kind host and followed the track of 
the other cars, which in due time we sighted in the dis- 
tance. Fortunately I had with me a tin of biscuits, as 
otherwise I should have had nothing to eat. A little 
past noon we came upon the cars at a standstill, and 
found that the driver of one had inadvertently gone a 
little to one side of the road, and the wheel had sunk 
to the axle in the swampy ground. We were fortunate 
enough to secure the help of a number of natives, and 
dragged the car through the swamp on to hard ground. 
The road was so churned to slush in getting this and 
the second car through that our car, coming last, sank, 
and we had to get help to lift it out and push it over 
the swampy part to firm ground. This delay took some 
two and a half hours, and by the time we were ready to 
go on again the sun showed signs of sinking. We had 
still a long distance, fully thirty miles, to cover before 
we reached our destination. We hurried forward, but in 
a few miles we had a puncture, which took half an hour 
to mend; then, when it was nearly dark, we ran into a 
tremendous storm, but, fortunately, it did not stop the 

A few miles farther on we again came upon the two 
cars standing in the roadway, and found that one was in a 
culvert, which had given way until the car sank up to the 
axles and rested on its body. Here was another difficulty, 
and we could find no natives to help. With the boys and 
drivers we managed to get the car out, and had then to 
fill up the deep gutter with grass, reeds and plantain 

Mombasa— Nairobi— Kampala 51 

stems to form a road for our car to get over. By the 
time this was finished it .was dark, and we had to run 
by the light of the lamps, which in Africa, with the 
uncertain earth-roads and their ugly turnings, is no 
pleasant undertaking. At length we reached the Govern- 
ment station at Mbarara, the capital of Ankole, and a 
guard came forward to learn about us and take our 
numbers. We had still two miles to go along an 
uncertain road to reach the mission station which I 
intended to make my working centre. Still, it had to 
be done, and after missing our turnings twice we came 
to the station. All now seemed right, but on going to 
the first house we found it empty. After some search 
we found a youth who told us that the friend who had 
offered his hospitality was ill and had gone to the English 
doctor at the fort. It was an awkward position to be 
left like this by night on the side of a mountain. What 
was to be done? I was completely perplexed, and was 
pondering what the next step should be, when a lamp 
appeared in the distance, and soon a lady missionar>^ 
came and told me about my friend's sudden illness. She 
also gave me hope by saying I could sleep in the empty 
house. She could give me a meal, and next day it would 
be possible to make arrangements for future action. So 
ended my run to Mbarara. The cars were unloaded and 
vanished in the dark, and I determined not to try them 
again on such roads, but to rely upon the slower and 
safer method of porters and my own bicycle, which could 
be carried when the paths were too bad, while the tent 
was always near for shelter and the food-boxes for meals. 



The Country — Preparations for Work — The King and his Chief 
Minister — The Bahuma — Appearance — Kraals — Herdsmen and 

; the Cows — Divisions of Time — MoraUty — Polyandry and Poly- 
gamy — Fat Women — Clothing — Famine — ^Agricultural Tribes — 
Artisans — Baganda Traders — European Inhabitants. 

THE district which is now marked on maps as the 
Western Province of the Uganda Protectorate is 
formed by the union with Ankole of several small 
independent pastoral kingdoms. The British Govern- 
ment determined to combine these kingdoms, and after 
some dissension the tribes agreed to accept Mbarara as 
their centre and the King of Ankole — called in the 
language of the land the Mugabe — as their nominal over- 
lord. In earlier times the people of Mporora, Muzumba, 
Buhwezi and the other small states would have refused 
to acknowledge any suzerainty of Ankole, but when the 
British officers had selected it for their centre the sur- 
rounding chiefs found it advisable to accept the conditions 
of government imposed on them. According to the 
Uganda statistics the area of the Province is 6,131 square 
miles and the population numbers 266,500. 

It is unfortunate that there are no translations into 
the language of the country; those people who have 
learned to read have been obliged to use either Luganda 
or a corrupt form of Lunyoro, these languages being 
used in both the Church Missionary Society and the 


Ankole— The Peoples 53 

Roman Catholic schools. When a few translations have 
been made and the people have books in their own 
language, greater progress will doubtless be possible in the 
elementary schools. Prejudice against a foreign tongue 
frequently deters pupils from study, and their difficulty in 
understanding their teachers is a further barrier to success. 
It requires a strong craving for knowledge to encourage 
a pupil to persist and surmount the language difficulty in 
such schools. 

The country is especially suitable for cattle-breeding, 
and the governing class is composed of a people ,who 
are entirely pastoral, and who are known among the 
neighbouring tribes as Bahuma or, in some cases, 
Bahima. These Bahuma must have invaded the 
country long ago, conquering the aborigines, who were 
agricultural people, and making them their slaves, or 
Bahera, as they are called. These Bahera are an 
improvident class who serve the Bahuma, but for them- 
selves keep only a few sheep or goats with .which to pur- 
chase wives or pay fines. They cultivate fields of millet, 
but raise only enough for their immediate use, and, 
in their desire for drink, they often use so much of 
this for brewing beer that their households are reduced 
to great straits before the next season's crops are 

It was my particular wish to study these pastoral 
people, the Bahuma of Ankole, more carefully. Some 
twelve years earlier I had visited them and made a few 
notes about them, and what I had then seen and heard 
made me anxious to inquire further into their ancient 
customs and religion. 

As my friend Mr. Grace .was away ill, I had, . after 
that first night, to make arrangements for some means 

54 The Soul of Central Africa 

of existence until my goods from Kampala could reach 
me. This seemed a difficulty, as there was no hotel or 
shop that could supply me with the necessary household 
equipment; but Miss Baker, the lady missionary, came 
again to my rescue, assuring me that I need not worry 
in the least, as she could provide all that I needed 
until Mr. Grace recovered and came back. She most 
generously arranged for me to go to her house for meals, 
and I made one of the spare rooms in Mr. Grace's house 
into my bedroom and settled down. The problem of 
getting my goods from Kampala was soon solved by a 
visit to the Government station at Mbarara, where, with 
the help of the officials, I was able to find the men 
required. At the same time I was able to see and 
reassure Mr. Grace, who was much perturbed because I 
had found him away on my arrival. It was a pleasure to 
discover in the Assistant District Commissioner the son 
of an old friend, and the beginning of my work in the 
district was made easier by having someone I knew near 

Such preliminary matters having been settled, my 
next step was to visit the native king and his chief 
minister, and through them to get in touch with com- 
petent men who could tell me something about their old 
customs. I had met both the king and his minister 
several times, but as I had been out of Africa fully ten 
years and had not seen either of them for some years 
before leaving the country, I was uncertain as to my 
reception. Still, I was there to win my way and get 
information, and I therefore sought to make a favourable 
impression. I sent my servant in advance to announce 
my coming to the chief minister, and on my arrival I 
found him awaiting me in a small house built on the 


Ankole— The Peoples 55 

model of the mission houses, but without any windows, 
the only light being admitted by the doorway. The 
reception room contained a table and chairs, and soon 
after my arrival a boy brought in cups and saucers and 
a tin of biscuits, and I found myself enjoying afternoon 
tea. Over the teacups I was able to make known the 
object of my visit to the country and my desire to secure 
two or three reliable men who would be willing to give 
me information about the past. The chief minister was 
most kind, and, declaring that he owed me a debt of 
gratitude for past help, promised to forward my work in 
every possible way. I felt still more encouraged when 
he stated that he would place the help I required at my 
disposal in two days' time. 

From the chief minister I went on to see the king, 
who lives quite near, for as the responsibility for his 
safety lies on the chief minister, this official must never 
be far away and has ready access to his master at all 
times. I found the king living in a large house built 
after the English style, with a corrugated iron roof, doors 
and glazed windows; inside were tables and chairs, and 
on the floor was a good carpet. All this marked a con- 
siderable advance from the time of my last visit to him, 
>vhen I was received in a mud hut with a floor of hard 
earth. In person he was not much altered, but he was 
somewhat reticent, and even, I thought, lacking in 
intelligence. He could not be induced to enter into 
conversation, though now and then he would brighten up 
and make a few remarks. On the >vhole, however, the 
result of the visit was satisfactory, as he gave me promises 
— though somewhat doubtful ones — of help and asked me 
to come and see him again. On my next visit I found 
him very different, full of life, showing a keen interest 

56 The Soul of Central Africa 

in the past customs of his tribe, and evidently anxious 
that a full record should be made. 

These visits enabled me to make definite plans for 
work, and when the porters had been dispatched for my 
goods I set about arranging my rooms and preparing, 
on a veranda, a place where I might interview the men 
from whom I hoped to get information. These details 
only occupied me one day, and fortunately I had note- 
books with me, so that on the morning of the third day 
after my arrival I was ready to receive two old men who 
came to see me, and I promptly set to work to elicit 
information. From that time onwards for three months 
these or other men came daily for fully four hours, and 
I had many other visitors who corroborated or added to 
the material thus collected. At first my visitors were 
careful to impart nothing but commonplace information, 
and some tact was required to persuade them to give 
fuller details. They were especially cautious with regard 
to the secrets of their sacred rites, on which the main 
value and interest of the inquiry depended. In due time, 
however, they became perfectly frank and gave me the 
particulars of even their most private ceremonies without 
any pressure on my part. 

These Bahuma are not negroes, as are the peasants 
of Ankole, but are undoubtedly of Hamitic stock, and 
they differ from other branches of Bahuma in having 
kept their race pure by refraining from intermarriage 
with members of negro tribes. In appearance they are 
generally tall, averaging about five foot ten; in colour 
they are of a dark brown ; their features are good, and 
their noses straight or aquiline ; their hair is less woolly 
than that of the lower type of African, and in a few 
instances it is wavy. The men are in general slightly 

Ankole— The Peoples 57 

built and athletic, and some of them have excellent 
figures. The women are usually extraordinarily corpu- 
lent; fat is looked on as beauty, and the fatter they are 
the more the men admire them. The fat is not so firm 
as that made through eating vegetables and meat, but 
they seem to enjoy perfect health and are always merry, 
laughing and showing beautifully white teeth. Project- 
ing teeth are also admired ; to have upper incisors which 
protrude is a mark of royalty, and therefore highly 
becoming and a possession much to be envied. In dis- 
position these people are bright and genial, ever ready 
to smile, and easily amused. 

The pastoral people live on a milk diet, and in this 
respect also they have been more conservative than other 
branches of Bahuma, who have generally admitted some 
vegetables into their meals in the course of the day. 
These Bahuma drink only milk from morning until night, 
but, should there be any beef available, they will eat 
that after sunset, abstaining for a period of twelve hours 
thereafter from drinking milk. There are numbers of 
them who hardly ever eat meat and prefer milk, and yet 
they enjoy the best of health, to all appearance they are 
quite strong, and they can endure a good deal of fatigue 
during a day's marching. They have constantly to make 
long journeys and are herding cattle all day. They are 
strong of limb and active, with no lack of muscle and 
no spare flesh. It may interest those who doubt whether 
a purely milk diet can keep people healthy and strong, to 
know that some of these cowmen were tested in the 
Carrier Corps during the war and proved themselves as 
fit for rough and trying work and as able to carry heavy 
loads as the members of meat-eating tribes. This was 
the more remarkable as these men were suddenly put 

58 The Soul of Central Africa 

upon a vegetable diet. In the King's African Rifles, 
too, many of the young men gained excellent reports of 
their capacity for endurance as well as of their intelligence 
and discipline. 

Ankole is the home of the noted long-horned cows 
which are so well known in East Africa. So large are 
the horns that women use them in some parts as water- 
vessels because of their capacity and durability. The 
main herds do not reside in any fixed centre, but roam 
about as the herdsmen consider best for the health of the 
animals. The kraals are temporary huts built to screen 
the herdsmen from night dews and rainstorms. A few 
thorny bushes fill the spaces between the huts, and with 
them form a circle to keep the cows together during the 
night and to prevent wild animals from invading the 
kraal. Cows always live in the open, calves alone being 
sheltered in the huts, both to keep them from taking all 
the milk from their dams and to protect them from wild 
animals. Wealthier owners and the better class people 
have more permanent kraals built somewhere near the 
king, who seeks for his capital a site with good pasturage 
and a permanent supply of water. When a man is of 
sufficient importance to have his kraal near the king's 
residence, a number of cows are brought from his main 
herd to this place, and are kept near to supply milk for 
the owner and his family. After one or two months in 
the capital they are sent back to the main herd, and 
other cows are brought in. 

The better built dwellings are merely conical-shaped 
huts with their roofs supported by the smallest timbers 
that can be made to serve the purpose and thatched with 
grass gathered in the neighbourhood. Though there are 
some forests with fine trees, timber is not abundant in 



Ankole— The Peoples 59 

this country, and generally has to be brought from a 
distance to the place chosen as the capital; hence the 
men do not select heavy timber, which, besides having 
to be carried, is more difficult to work. Each house has 
reed walls inside which divide the place into two or three 
tiny rooms, one being kept for the girls and one for the 
parents, while the boys lie about where they like in the 
main room. The entrance to the girls' room is through 
the parents' room, so that they are protected from any 

Each kraal has in it a large fire of dried cowdung, 
which is guarded by the inmates and must never die out, 
nor may it be used for cooking purposes, being held too 
sacred for such use. Cows love these fires, and crowd 
round them, often struggling for places near them, as 
the smoke prevents biting flies from settling on their 

Some of the larger kraals of the more powerful chiefs 
are formed of several huts built at short distances from 
each other so as to enclose a circular space, in which the 
cows gather by night, and in the centre of which is the 
fire. The doorways all look towards the centre, and 
are usually open spaces, a door being rarely found. 
Between the huts rough posts are planted and tied 
together with strong ropes of creepers, and the cowdung 
is daily swept up and heaped on one side. So closely 
identified are those cowmen with their cows that this 
heap of dung forms their burial-ground. It is, however, 
customary to move some months after a burial to a new 
site somewhere in the vicinity of the old kraal, and a 
shrine is built near the new gateway for the ghost of the 
dead man, which has also a shrine inside the hut of the 
nev^ owner, near his bed. Another reason for leaving an 

6o The Soul of Central Africa 

old kraal is that after some time the daily scraping up 
of the dung and of the soft earth which the cows have 
trampled leaves a hard, rough surface on which the cows 
cannot lie with any comfort. 

No cowman calculates his greatness or his wealth by 
the amount of land he owns, but always by the number 
of his cows. Land is only of value from the grass it 
grows for the herd, for the cowman has one love which 
surpasses all others, and that is for his cows. If a 
favourite cow falls sick, he will tend it day and night, 
and, should it die, his grief is extreme, at times even 
greater than for a wife or child. Men have even been 
known to become insane and to commit suicide when one 
of these favourites dies. 

The skill with which two or three of these herdsmen 
can manage a large herd, often numbering four or five 
hundred, is wonderful; they have the animals entirely 
under their control, and can direct them by word of 
mouth as easily as though they were rational beings. 
Their remarkable power over the animals is seen at its 
best when the cows are being watered. If the ,well is 
shallow, the cows are allowed to pass down and drink 
from it one or two at a time ; but if the well is too deep 
for this, say ten to fifteen feet, then the water has to be 
drawn in pails and emptied into earthen troughs. The 
men who remain about the kraal are responsible for draw- 
ing the water ; they prepare the trough and draw as much 
water as it will hold before the cows return from the 
pasture in the afternoon. When the men arrive with 
the herd there may be two of them with from one to 
three hundred cows. One man takes his place near the 
watering-trough, while the other stands in front of the 
cows and tells from six to twelve, according to the stand- 

Ankole— The Peoples 6i 

ing-room at the trough, to go to the .water and drink. 
He then commands the rest to wait, and should any of 
them try to get to the water before the previous lot have 
finished, it is quite sufficient for him to hold out his 
staff or at most to tap the animal and reprove it for 
being so impatient. The man at the drinking-place sees 
that the cows do not step in the troughs or break them, 
and when one lot have had enough he orders them out 
of the way to a place where grass fires have been lit. 
Here they stand patiently near the fires until the whole 
herd have drunk their fill. While the cows are drinking, 
two or three other men may be engaged in drawing 
water. Several different methods are employed for doing 
this, a common custom being for one man to stand at 
the bottom, often in the water, where he dips a wooden 
pail and throws it up full to the man at the top, who 
catches it, empties it into the trough, and throws it 
back to be filled again. When all the cows have been 
watered, they are pastured again, and go slowly home- 
ward for the night. No cows are fed in the kraal ; they 
have to wait until the next day for more grass. 

Though men possess large herds of cows and c?ll them 
their own, still the king can take any he wishes; all 
the cows in the country are his, and no man can sell a 
cow out of the tribe. Once a cow enters the tribe it is 
the king's, and, though it may change masters, it can 
only go from one cowman of the tribe to another, and 
not to a man of another tribe. Cows are the highest form 
of currency, and all prices are regulated by the value of 
the cow. Women and slaves were bought by the pay- 
ment of one or more cows, and the value of goats and 
sheep is fixed by the number a man will pay for a cow. 
These animals are used for exchange ; a man will barter 

62 The Soul of Central Africa 

them for young cows or a bull or sell them to buy 
weapons or salt. 

These cowmen have no idea of weeks; they reckon 
time by the year, which is subdivided by the rains. These 
come twice during our twelve months, the heavier rains 
marking the new year and the lighter rains the comple- 
tion of the six months of the half-year. The next division 
is that of months or moons, marked by each appearance 
of the new moon. To the African in general the new 
moon is always a time for rejoicing; it is watched for 
and hailed with songs and festivity. It is the waxing 
moon that brings luck, and the period between new and 
full moon is the lucky time for events of importance, such 
as marriages and births. The month has its twenty-eight 
days, each subdivided by the position of the sun. In all 
these divisions of time the first concern is the cattle — 
what is to be done with the cows, or how the season of 
year affects them, either for pasturage or breeding pur- 
poses. The divisions of the day are marked by the time 
io take the cattle to pasture, to give them w^ater, to 
allow them to rest, to bring them home, and to milk 
them. The cow and its welfare are their be-all and 

In this tribe there is a high code of morality among 
unmarried girls, and no parent would seek to shield a 
daughter who had offended against the strict rule of 
chastity. The offender is condemned to death by her 
clan, with the full concurrence of her father and mother ; 
she is taken to a great river, her body is weighted with 
stones, and she is drowned. The gravity of the offence 
is shown by the fact that no young woman who is being 
led to death for such a crime is permitted to pass through 
the main entrance to the kraal. An object of contempt 

Ankole— The Peoples 63 

to all the clan, she is driven out through a hole in the 
fence. The reason for such relentless severity is that 
the cattle are believed to suffer when such an offender 
is shielded, and thus the all-important milk supply is 
endangered. Parents take the utmost care of their 
daughters, and their mothers guard them with unceasing 
watchfulness until they are married and handed over to 
the care of a husband. Where chastity is so stringently 
enforced before marriage, it is surprising to find what 
laxity is permitted afterwards. It is an accepted rule 
of hospitality that a man must provide his guest with 
sleeping accommodation, even to the extent of sharing 
with the visitor his own bed and his own wife. 

In connexion with marriage customs another interest- 
ing fact is the existence of polyandry. Ankole is the 
only place in this part of Africa in which I found this 
custom. It has doubtless come about owing to the 
stringent observance of the milk diet, with its inevitable 
effect on the economic conditions of the homes of the 
poorer class. In order that his cows may flourish and 
his children be in health, a man must provide his wife 
with a milk diet, and he often cannot afford to pay the 
marriage dowry, which commonly amounts to ten cows 
or more, and still retain enough cows to provide himself 
and a wife with the amount of milk they require daily 
for food. He will therefore invite one or two men, either 
uterine brothers or *' clan brothers" — that is, members 
of the same clan — to join him. These partners will pool 
their cows and, by paying the customary dowry, purchase 
one wife. The woman who becomes the wife of^ the 
partner brothers does not object to this custom, but seems 
to live happily with her various husbands, nor does it 
appear that there is ever any disagreement between them 

64 The Soul of Central Africa 

about her. Any children that are born belong to the 
oldest brother. 

It is usual for a man to have only one wife, though 
there is no law forbidding him to have more, and there 
are instances of a iman's having two. This is generally due 
to the first wife, who, being childless, may advise her 
husband to marry another woman. It is only when a 
man belongs to the better, that is, the well-to-do, class 
that a wife can make such a suggestion. Only the wealthy 
would be able to pay a second marriage fee and still retain 
enough milk to feed two wives ; a poorer man would have 
to put away the first wife before taking a second. When 
a man keeps two wives there does not appear to be any 
jealousy between them ; they live in the same kraal, enjoy 
the same amount of liberty, and have the same interests. 

Women have little work to do, their duties being 
confined to washing and fumigating milk-pots and churn- 
ing butter. There is no cooking, except on the rare 
occasions when a cow is killed or dies. No matter what 
the cause of a cow's death may have been, the meat is 
always eaten. Then a wife may undertake to cook some 
of the meat for her husband, but even this is generally 
delegated to one of the male servants, lest the extra work 
should be wearisome to her and, by sympathetic magic, 
injurious to the herd. The result of this indolent life, 
together with the quantities of milk which they drink, 
is the abnormal fatness to which I have referred. This 
obesity is looked on by all classes as a mark of beauty. 
Girls, before marriage, are not allowed to walk about, 
and are encouraged to drink as much milk as they can, 
in order that they may become as fat as possible before 
their afiianced husbands come to claim them. After 
marriage women practically lose the power of walking ; 



Ankole— The Peoples 65 

half a mile will take them two or three hours to accom- 
plish, for a rest is necessary after every few yards. In 
their dances these fat women remain seated and go 
through a performance which consists in waving their 
hands and arms gracefully and swaying their bodies to 
and fro, making meanwhile a buzzing sound with their 
lips, to the rhythm of which the men caper and jump 
about, full of admiration for the women who are too fat 
to stand. 

The wants of these cowmen and their wives are small, 
and can be supplied almost entirely by the produce ol 
their cows. Thus a woman, who is more carefully dressed 
than a man, wears only two cowskin robes, one around 
her body and the other thrown over her head and descend- 
ing to her feet. The strangeness of their attire is seen 
when they move out of the house ; a woman cannot walk 
far without resting, and she does not walk upright, but 
stoops from the hips forward. As her clothing is over 
her head, leaving only a small opening through which 
to see, she resembles some ungainly animal. After walk- 
ing ten or twelve yards she stops to rest, placing her 
hands one on each knee, and from a distance looking 
ridiculously like a camel. Until Western influence began 
to be felt men seldom wore anything beyond a small 
cape over the shoulders, and even now they wear only 
the merest apology for a loin-cloth in addition to the 
old shoulder covering. 

Unfortunately, my visit to the country took place at 
a time when rinderpest was carrying off the cattle by 
the thousand, and people were reduced to the last stages 
of famine through loss of milk ; many of them were dying 
from starvation, while others were wandering about into 
remote parts of their country looking for friends who had 

66 The Soul of Central Africa , 

not lost their cows and could help them with food. In 
some parts of the country men and women tried to live 
on a vegetable diet, w^hich in many instances led to 
digestive troubles and contagious diseases which caused 
numerous deaths. What struck me most forcibly was the 
rapid change among the women. Their flesh fell away 
so quickly that their skin hung in folds, making quite 
young girls look like old women. One or two such women 
I met struggling along to seek help from distant friends, 
and their cases were indeed pitiable. There were no 
bearers to carry them, and they limped along with pain 
and difficulty. 

This tribe of pastoral people are most careful not to 
intermarry with any of the agricultural tribes around 
them. They consider these people their inferiors, and 
use them to do their rough work and to supply them with 
grain for their slaves and plantains for brewing beer. 
They will not take any of the agricultural women as wives 
nor allow any of their own daughters to be given to these 
men in marriage. There are a few instances where a girl 
who has gone wrong has fled to some agricultural home 
for shelter, to escape being put to death. When such a 
woman has weaned her baby, it is usual for her to become 
the wife of the man with whom she has taken refuge. 
Such cases are extremely rare, for the w^oman is for ever 
an outcast from her tribe and has to adopt the customs 
and become a member of one of the clans of the agricul- 
tural people. 

These agricultural people are the Bahera, or serfs, 
whom I have already mentioned, and who keep the goats 
and sheep of their pastoral lords and receive a percentage 
of the young in compensation for their services. These 
domestic animals are not tended by the pastoral people 

Ankole— The Peoples 67 

themselves, but are required by them for purposes of 
barter or for furnishing the medicine-man with his fee 
for giving an oracle and, in some cases, with the means 
of taking the oracle, which is often read over the body of 
some animal. The Bahera may possess goats and sheep 
of their own, but seldom keep cows ; indeed, until the 
advent of the British, after which their economic con- 
dition improved, they were, in most cases, too poor to 
accomplish their great aim and desire, which was to 
possess a second wife, a custom permitted by their law. 

These Bahera claim to be descended from the 
aborigines whom the Bahuma found in the land and 
forced into a state of bondage, and the pastoral people 
agree with this account, which is probably a true one; 
at any rate, the Bahera are now the servants of the 
pastoral people, undertaking for them many kinds of 
work which, by the regulations of their milk customs, are 
forbidden to the cowmen. In the places where they settle 
they dig plots of land and sow a kind of small millet 
for food. They grow other vegetables, but seldom 
trouble to sow more than just enough to last them 
through the dry season, when nothing can grow and 
nothing can be done to the earth until the rains come 
again. They also grow plantains, but only in small 
quantities, and, as they do not understand their cultiva- 
tion and possibly do not consider them worth much 
trouble, the fruit seldom comes to perfection. The people 
do not know how to cook plantains as the Baganda do ; 
the women merely peel and boil them like sweet potatoes, 
which destroys the flavour and gives the food a most 
unappetizing appearance. 

In many of their customs the agricultural people 
imitate their masters, the pastoral people, though there 

68 The Soul of Central Africa 

are differences in detail. They are not taxed for their 
land, but their chief, who is their landlord, can, when he 
requires it, demand a little corn for his household or 
plantains for brewing beer, and they herd his goats and 
sheep for him. No agreement is ever made between 
the landlord and his tenants ; they can leave and change 
their masters as they please. They settle as near to the 
master's kraal as they can find suitable land, and there 
they dig their fields and reap their crops, with no desire 
to move unless there is some serious difference or some 
other chief bribes them to come to him. 

Their clothing is scant, that of the men being only 
girdles of hide, while the women wear one skin tied over 
the left shoulder and passing under the right arm, leaving 
one side uncovered. They do not live in communities, 
but each man settles and builds his hut on the ground 
which he has chosen for cultivation. Their homes are 
merely conical huts, larger and better built than those 
of the herdsmen, but still very miserable for permanent 
use. Their food is chiefly porridge of a flour made by 
rubbing the millet between two stones until it is ground 
fine. To vary this diet and to eke out the scanty grain 
they sometimes use sweet potatoes. Meat is a great 
luxury, and they will eat the flesh of almost any kind of 
animal, whether wild or tame, but they rarely, if ever, 
kill any domestic animal for food. Goats and sheep are 
reared more particularly for the purpose of buying wives, 
and a man will pay from twenty to forty goats for a 
bride. The relatives may demand a number of goats or 
sheep, and in addition the equivalent of so many more 
to be paid in bark-cloths, hoes, knives and possibly food. 
This fee is taken by the parents of the girl and divided 
among the members of the clan. 

Ankole—The Peoples 69 

These clans are totemic, each family adopting the 
totem of the father and wives accepting their husbands' 
totems for their offspring. Marriage between persons 
having the same totem is forbidden, and a man must seek 
his wife from a clan with another totem — that is to say, 
clan exogamy is enforced. 

There was, before British rule altered matters, little 
organized government, though each clan recognized a man 
who was pronounced to be the " father " of the clan. To 
this man the members came when in trouble, especially 
when theft or cases relating to marriage required arbitra- 
tion. Where more important matters — injury, violence, 
murder or any question respecting land — were concerned, 
there was in each district a chief who had to settle the 

Both for Bahuma and Bahera the king's was the 
supreme court, but in the old days he had no court-house, 
and the meetings were held in the open, the king sitting 
in the shade of a euphorbia tree while the members of the 
court from the different parts of the country took their 
places in front of him and the people sat behind them. 
There were no seats nor did even the chiefs bring rugs or 
mats to sit upon, but simply squatted with their knees 
drawn up under their chins in the manner of cowmen. The 
more important chiefs had their places near the king, and 
formed a guard to protect him should any man threaten 
to injure him. The king sat on a skin, and behind him 
stood one of his wives to support him if he wished to lean 
back. Another wife held his spear and shield and any 
other weapon he chose to have with him. The king's 
wives were his special guard of honour, and had on all 
such occasions to be near him, to warn him of any 
threatened attack or sign of aggression among the people. 

70 The Soul of Central Africa 

A guard of personal police also accompanied the king and 
stood before him. 

The assembled people arranged themselves so that a 
narrow path was left by which to reach the king. As each 
man arrived he deposited his weapons at a distance, for 
none might be brought into the assembly, and came up 
the narrow lane to greet the king and shake hands with 
him. Should the new-comer be a stranger, unknown to 
the guards and not a regular attendant at the court, one 
of the guard of personal police held out his spear a few 
feet in front of the king, and the man had to greet him 
and shake his hand without passing this barrier. The 
special danger in the presence of a stranger was that 
he might for some reason have been deprived by the 
king of some cows. A man who had suffered this 
greatest of losses would certainly seek to revenge 
himself on the king and was a serious menace to his 

The most important and difficult cases which were 
brought before the king for judgment were those of 
murder. This was not a common crime, for only some 
matter connected with the most important thing in a 
man's life, his cattle, would cause him to commit such a 
deed. If a man discovered or suspected that another had 
done injury to his cows, he would promptly attempt to 
kill the evil-doer. If successful, the murderer might seek 
safety in flight, but this would mean deserting his cows, 
which were more to him than life, so that as a rule he was 
easily found. The relatives of the murdered man would 
put him to death on the spot unless he succeeded in 
placing himself under the protection of his chief, saying 
he was accused of murder and pleading for help. In such 
circumstances he was given an opportunity of pleading 


Ankole— The Peoples 71 

his cause, and, if convicted, of making his peace by pay- 
ing a fine. The chief of the district in which the crime 
was committed had to make the necessary arrangements, 
and the murderer and his friends had to be brought face 
to face with the victim's friends and relatives in the 
presence of the king. 

An open space was chosen, and the two parties 
gathered there, leaving room for the king to stand 
between them. A branch of the sacred tree, kirikiti 
(Erythrina tomentosa), was planted in the ground between 
the opposing parties, and one of the drums which were 
attendants on the sacred drums was brought out and laid 
beside it. The murderer had to provide a cow or bull and 
a sheep, and the sheep was tethered near the king beside 
the sacred tree. 

The king, after hearing the evidence from both parties, 
asked them if they were willing to come to terms. If 
they agreed, the aggressor or one of his friends plucked a 
little wool from the sheep and handed it to one of the 
injured party, who imitated the action, handing the wool 
to the first man. The wool thus plucked was placed on 
the tree. Next the cow or bull was killed, the blood being 
caught in a vessel, into which the representative of each 
party dipped a finger and rubbed the blood in the palm 
of the other's right hand. The king pronounced his 
decision as to the number of cows the culprit would have 
to pay as compensation for his crime, and the parties 
joined in a feast before the sacred tree, eating the meat 
of the slain animal as a sign of reconciliation. The 
number of cows for the fine might be from fifty to one 
hundred, and of these six went to the king for judging 
the case and making peace. 

Other cases were frequently tried at these open courts, 

Tz The Soul of Central Africa 

but the murder trials aroused most interest and were 
attended by larger crowds than any others. 

One of the most binding as well as one of the most 
interesting ceremonies still performed by the people in 
many parts of Ankole is that of becoming blood-brothers. 
When two men have formed such a deep and sincere 
friendship that they wish to proclaim it and cement it 
for life, they do so in the following way. One man 
arranges to spend the night at the house of the other. 
On his arrival he is greeted and entertained as an honoured 
guest by the host and his sister, who is present as special 
witness. At daybreak the two men, each accompanied 
by witnesses, go to some place not far from the house, 
and there they spread a rug on which they sit a little 
distance apart, facing each other. The sister of the host 
and the witnesses watch the proceedings carefully. On 
the rug between the two men is laid the arrow which 
is used for bleeding the cows, a coffee berry in its husk, 
and a twig of the sacred tree, kirikiti. The host takes the 
arrow, scratches his stomach until he draws blood, and 
passes the arrow to his guest, who does the same, and each 
catches a few drops of blood in his right hand. The coffee 
berry is divided, and each takes half and places it in the 
palm of his right hand, smearing it over with the blood. 
The host takes hold of the guest's right hand, and with 
his lips takes the half-berry from the palm and swallows 
it, the guest repeating the process with the other half- 
berry. The host then takes the arrow, places it first 
against the thumbnail of his right hand as though he were 
about to cut it, raises it to his head as though he meant 
to shave off some hair, and passes it round his head and 
down to the nail of his great toe as though he meant to cut 
it. The guest takes the arrow and goes through the same 



Ankole— The Peoples 73 

actions, placing it, when he has finished, on the rug 
between them. They make promises to be faithful and 
true to each other and to each other's family and relations 
through life, to serve each other until death, and never 
to allow anything to sever the friendship. The host's 
sister then takes a hand of each and tells them they must 
live together always. Each presents her with some gift 
for her services as witness, and the ceremony is complete. 

Among the Bahera, who are the servants of the 
Bahuma in Ankole, and are used in all agricultural and 
building operations, there are artisans who comprise three 
distinct trades, the smiths and ironworkers in general, 
the carpenters, and the potters. Upon these people the 
pastoral clans depend for various necessary weapons — 
tools, household furniture, milk vessels, and water-pots. 
The ironworkers I will not deal with here, for the smiths 
are not so skilful as those of Bunyoro and there are few 
smelters, the smiths obtaining their metal from Bunyoro 
and other countries. 

All artisans have to observe certain taboos before they 
can set to work. The carpenters, for example, have to 
propitiate the tree spirit before they can cut down a tree 
for boards or for wood to make milk and water vessels 
or such furniture as they require. The priest of the forest 
accompanies the man to the tree he has selected, and, after 
having poured out the blood of the sacrificial animal on 
its roots and possibly tied a string of beads or cowry 
shells round its base, they eat a sacred meal there. Then 
the carpenter may proceed to fell the tree and cut from 
it as many boards or, if the wood is to be made into milk- 
pots, as many large blocks as he requires. In Ankole 
few boards are ever cut, their chief requirements being 
milk-pots and water-pots, and the trunk is therefore 

74 The Soul of Central Africa 

chopped into logs of the required length. The pot is 
roughly shaped with the adze, and is then left for a time 
to dry before it is hollowed out. The carpenter sits on 
the ground, holding the wood with his legs or feet, and 
hollows it out with chisels. The timber dries and seasons 
slowly while he is doing this, and he has to watch it 
carefully lest the wood should crack through drying too 
quickly. Water-pails are also made of wood, and, as they 
are of a size to hold about two gallons, require larger logs. 
Smaller vessels for milk and butter and for wash-basins 
are also made by these men, who become fairly skilful in 
this craft. 

Here, as in many parts of Africa, the w^omen are the 
chief potters, though the art is not strictly confined to 
them, and there are men here and there who give their 
time to it. This may be accounted for by the fact that, 
with the exception of the king and a few chiefs, it is the 
lower class for whom the vessels are required, and they 
cannot afford to purchase them from professional potters, 
but make for their households what pots they requife. 
The king and a few chiefs have their own men to make 
milk vessels for them, and in the work they produce there 
is a higher standard of style and workmanship than in the 
pots of the humbler class. There can be little doubt that 
the type of pots, and indeed the art of making them, have 
filtered into Ankole from the Banyoro, who are much 
superior in all the arts. All pottery is made by hand, and 
no attempt has been made to use any kind of wheel for 
the cylindrical pots. Still, the shapes are wonderfully true 
and the curves of some of the milk-pots are beautifully 
formed. As the clay is seldom well worked or prepared 
and the pots are never thoroughly burned, the vessels are 
brittle, and, unless frequently re-dried in the sun or over 





Ankole— The Peoples 75 

a fire, they are liable to break when lifted or carried. The 
tools used are of a very primitive character. A piece of 
a gourd forms a rest for the base of the pot while the 
sides are being built up, and another small piece is used 
as a trowel to smooth both inside and outside. The 
worker builds up the walls and smooths them with the 
gourd trowel until the whole is complete. Such pots are 
kept some days in a hut, and ,when fairly hard are 
exposed to the sun until quite dry. They are then heaped 
together, covered with grass and reeds, which are set on 
fire, and kept there until they are supposed to be quite 
hard. The water- and cooking-pots of the peasants are 
never polished, though they have a rude decoration in a 
sort of herring-bone style on them. Milk-pots for the 
king and chiefs are made thinner, and when dry are 
rubbed with a smooth stone and burned and then polished. 
This is done by holding them in the thick smoke of 
burning plantain leaves and fibre, and polishing them with 
a rag of bark-cloth while they are still hot and have the 
oily smoke on them. The potter can thus obtain a fine 
black polish, which he burns on, and which will last the 
life-time of the pot. 

It is the custom to break earthen pots when the owner 
dies, and, unless a pot is in perfect condition, it will be 
placed on the grave with a hole broken in it; the least 
chip on a pot from the house of mourning is sufficient to 
condemn it when, after the funeral, the pots are examined 
before the purification ceremony. 

Basketry is carried on by both men and women, in 
some places almost entirely by the women, the men 
making only the stronger baskets of willow. The finer 
basket-work is done by women, who prepare certain 
grasses and the fronds of palm leaves and aloes for their 

76 The Soul of Central Africa 

work. Princesses and ladies from pastoral clans also 
weave a neat basket from the fronds of the wild palm, 
and use it to carry coffee berries in when they pay a visit. 
Other rough, strong baskets are used by peasants in 
their fields, and hens with chickens are kept in them 
during the night to protect them from wild animals. 

During the past few years quite a colony of Baganda 
have congregated in the capital of Ankole, Mbarara, 
where they have cultivated fields of plantains. These men 
are mostly Mohammedan, and are the scattered remnants 
of the Baganda Mohammedan party which, some twenty 
years ago, tried to set up a king of their own in Buganda, 
but who, after a sharp fight, fled, some towards Koki and 
others to the north of Buganda into Ankole. The Chief 
Minister of Ankole is responsible for their entrance into 
that country. Some years ago he began to feel nervous 
with regard to the growing power of a certain party of 
Bahuma who were not friendly to him. He feared that if 
their power continued to increase they would end by 
deposing him. In order to avert this calamity he deter- 
mined to add to the numbers of his own party by inviting 
these Mohammedan Baganda into the country and placing 
them on his estates so that they might support him in 
case of need. They are traders, and keep shops from 
which can be obtained almost every article the natives 
require. Their presence in the capital has driven the 
pastoral people farther away, and only a few cows are now 
kept by the king and chiefs for the daily needs of them- 
selves and their households. This may have its compen- 
sating features now that a permanent capital has come 
into being, for good pasturage and sanitation are of the 
utmost importance to cow-keeping. The present primitive 
conditions in Ankole and the limited resources of the 

Ankole—The Peoples 77 

country make the provision of good sanitation in and 
around a permanent settlement a problem for which the 
Government officials have so far failed to find a satisfactory 

The Government stations have greatly improved 
during the past ten years, but the accommodation for 
married servants of the Crown needs further considera- 
tion, and marriage should be encouraged among them, 
alike for their own health and comfort and for the general 
uplifting and education of the natives. Roads for motor 
transport are rapidly being constructed into the far 
districts. These are really essential for the abolition of 
the drudgery of porterage and for saving labour, which is 
becoming an acute problem among settlers. 



The Gods — Fetishes — Transmigration of Souls — Death and Funeral 
of the King — Purifying the Country — A Lion Hunt — Illness — 
Sickness in the Herd — Death and Burial of Ordinary People — 
Purification Ceremonies — The Ghost — Death of Women — Marriage 
Ceremonies — Children — Milk Taboos. 

A MONG the Bahuma of Ankole, beyond the daily 
LjL rite of offering milk to the ghosts, there is no 
■*" "^" regular form of worship. They acknowledge the 
existence of a Creator, but he has no temple or shrine 
and is not asked for any favour. His work is finished 
and he has delegated his powers to other gods. There 
are four gods who are said to be the sons of Ruhanga, 
the Creator, their names being Isimbwe, Ndohola, 
Wamala, and Kashoba. These deities were at one time 
resident upon the earth in the form of men ; when they 
retired from this world, certain servants became their 
mediums and priests, and there has been a succession of 
these mediums from that time to this. These gods are 
only appealed to on special occasions ; they are called upon 
during war, or when there is any trouble among the herds. 
When the men go out to war, the women gather from 
the kraals and go into the bush, where they sit under 
trees and from time to time call upon the war god, 
Kashoba, to protect their husbands and sons. They take 
with them pots of milk, and they drink this and talk in 

the intervals of praying and calling on the god. Earth- 


Ankole— Ceremonies of the Bahuma 79 

quakes are attributed to the movements of one of the 
gods, and thunder and lightning are the manifestations 
of another. Thus, when any calamity happens, and either 
men or cattle are struck by lightning, the people call for 
the priest to come and see the dead before they attempt 
to remove them, and an offering must be made to the 
god before the rest of the herd can be taken away from 
the place where some of the cows have been struck down. 

Amulets are worn by men and women at all times, 
for everyone wears a special charm as protection against 
any complaint to which he, or she, is particularly subject ; 
but the gods are kept before the minds of the people in 
the shape of special fetishes, and large sums are paid for a 
good fetish made by the priest of one of the deities. 
When men go to war they each carry two fetishes, which 
are usually short horns of some animal filled with in- 
gredients provided by the clan medicine-man. Each clan 
has its own vendor of these goods, who makes them and 
who has to see that they are more powerful than those 
of rival clans. The warrior carries one fetish on his left 
shoulder and a second in his shield, and his wife has a 
third in her house, to which she has to make daily offerings 
during her husband's absence. Should a wife prove un- 
faithful to her husband during his absence, or neglect to 
offer the daily libation to the god through the fetish, 
the husband will be left to face the risks of the war in his 
own strength; the god will neglect him, or even cause 
him to become nervous and sick ; it therefore behoves a 
wife to be careful in her behaviour at such times. 

The priests must also tell the owner of cows when 
he may kill an animal which belongs to a ghost or which 
is to be given to a god. The bones of such an animal 
may not be broken ; the meat is carved from the bones 

8o The Soul of Central Africa 

and cut up, and the bones are burnt in the open. The 
supernatural being who exercises the greatest influence 
in the family and regulates all its morals is the ghost of 
the father of the kraal. 

In many respects the pastoral people of Ankole differ 
in their beliefs from other tribes of the same Hamitic 
stock. They believe in the transmigration of royal souls, 
and the king is therefore not deified after death, as are 
the kings of Buganda and Bunyoro, but is thought to 
pass to what we should consider a lower grade and take 
the form of a lion. The other members of the royal 
family also take, after death, the forms of animals and 
reptiles, the king's wives (who are not necessarily of royal 
blood) becoming leopards, while princes and princesses 
take the form of pythons. What becomes of the lion, 
leopard or python into which the soul of a royal person 
migrates seems to be of no consequence when the animal 
has played his part ; neither the king nor his people feel 
any concern beyond the immediately preceding genera- 
tion, and the lion representing the last king is never known 
to die during the reign of his successor. Should such a 
misfortune occur, the priest will produce another and 
the reigning king and the people will be none the wiser. I 
could not ascertain what is supposed to happen at the 
death of the lion that represented the last king but 
one, for when a king dies, and the forest priest, 
announcing him to have become a lion, has shown the 
cub representing him to the new king's messengers, the 
greatness of the former lion-king, who was consulted by 
his successor on any occasion of difficulty, lapses, and 
the new king follows the counsels of the spirit of his 
immediate predecessor, as learnt through the medium 
priest from the new lion-king. Should this priest, how- 

Ankole— Ceremonies of the Bahuma 8i 

ever, on any occasion be placed in a dilemma by the 
occurrence of some unforetold event of importance, such 
as an invasion which was unexpected and perhaps contrary 
to a given oracle, he will lay it to the charge of a former 
king, to whom he will appeal through a neglected and 
forgotten lion, and thus explain any discrepancies in his 
augury. Such occasions are, however, extremely rare. 

The old office of Priest of the Sacred Forest carried 
with it considerable honour and power, for the priest was 
in most political matters adviser to the king. He was 
wealthy, for he had under his control all the cattle which 
belonged to the lion-kings, and all offerings for the de- 
parted were sent to him. The priest was assisted by 
his sons and other followers, and a son usually succeeded 
his father in the office. A childless priest might adopt 
as his son the child of a clan brother. 

The King of Ankole never wished to die a natural 
death, nor would he allow himself to lie ill for any length 
of time. Should he feel ill, or through age find his 
strength failing him, it was his duty to end his life by 
taking a dose of poison. The ingredients for this were 
always kept at hand by the royal medicine-man, who 
stored them in the shell of a crocodile's egg. It must 
have been a strong poison, for it took effect very rapidly, 
ending the king's life in a few moments. I could not, 
however, discover the ingredients; the men absolutely 
refused to divulge this secret. The king thus experienced 
no lengthened illness, but passed away in a few minutes 
after swallowing the fatal potion, and his body was at 
once prepared for the ceremony which the people claimed 
to be his rebirth in the form of a lion cub. 

All work now ceased in the land, every spear* was 
wrapped up, and no sharp instrument might be displayed 

82 The Soul of Central Africa 

until the new king began his reign. Firewood had to 
be broken, not chopped, and the fires in the royal kraal 
were allowed to die out. All goats and dogs found in the 
neighbourhood of the royal kraal were killed. A bride- 
groom awaiting his marriage day must go at once in 
haste to claim his bride, or, if that were impossible, he 
must send to her a belt made of the strap which he used 
for tying his cows during milking, and she must wear 
it. If he neglected this his engagement was at an end 
and he had to seek another bride. 

The body of the king was arranged with the legs bent 
up so that the knees came under the chin, an attitude 
favoured by cowmen when they squatted at rest while 
herding their cows. A white cow which had had only 
one calf, and whose calf was still living, was brought, and 
two or three men twisted its head sharply until its neck 
was broken. A white sheep was also killed and its skin 
prepared for use in the burial rites. A little milk was 
taken from the cow before she w^as killed; some was 
poured into the mouth of the dead man, and the remainder 
over some grain which lay in the sheepskin. This was 
put on the dead king's stomach, and the skin of the cow 
was secured tightly over all. For two days the body lay 
in the royal kraal, and it was then taken to a sacred 
forest, where it underwent a further process of washing 
with milk. After some days the priest came forward 
with a lion cub and announced that the king was reborn 
in this form. The men who brought the body had to 
remain for a few days to see that the cub was in good 
health and making fair progress. They then returned to 
the capital to tell the widows and relatives, and mourning 
for the loss of the king who had thus left them began 
and continued all that day and night without ceasing. 



Ankole— Ceremonies of the Bahuma 83 

The next day the heir to the throne was brought 
forward, and he appointed a sister to cleanse everyone 
and everything before he could commence his reign. All 
the milk vessels which belonged to the late king were 
brought out and examined by specially appointed men. 
Any earthen pots which were chipped or had any flaws 
were broken, while any wooden pots which had decora- 
tions upon them or had any defects were also destroyed. 
The perfectly sound pots were placed on one side and 
underwent cleansing with the princes, the people, the 
cattle and the land. 

The ceremony of cleansing was carried out with care 
and solemnity. A boy, whose parents must both be alive 
and both strong and healthy, was sent to the king's well 
to bring a pot of water. This was poured into a wooden 
bowl, and white clay was mixed with it until the mixture 
looked like whitewash. A bunch of herbs, of a kind re- 
garded as efficacious for cleansing, was handed to the 
chosen princess, who stood beside her brother, the king 
elect. Near him also were the princes and princesses, and 
beyond them as many of the people as cared to come, and 
the herds of cattle. The princess took the bunch of herbs, 
dipped it into the bowl of ceremonial water, and touched 
her brother upon the forehead and upon each knee. She 
then sprinkled some of it towards each quarter of the 
land, thus removing any taint of death or sickness, and 
leaving the country and its inhabitants clean for the new 
king to commence his reign. 

The lion, as the animal into which kings migrated, 
was held sacred in certain places, and in no part of the 
country did men care to kill one. Should a lion attack 
and kill anyone, the relatives resorted to a medicine-man, 
who consulted the oracle. He might pronounce the lion 

84 The Soul of Central Africa 

to be possessed by the spirit of a king, in which case this 
outburst of ferocity betokened annoyance ; the king had 
been offended or neglected in some way, and the offence 
must be atoned for before the attacks would cease. The 
medicine-man could also tell what offerings would serve 
to propitiate the irate monarch. 

Should the oracle, on the contrary, declare the lion 
to be merely a savage beast, a hunt was organized, in which 
from two to five hundred men took part, A few men 
followed the track of the beast and discovered its haunts 
so that, when the hunters arrived, they could tell them 
where it was. The huntsmen made a wide ring and 
advanced, singing and beating down the grass, ever 
narrowing their circle until they came upon the lion. 
As the terrified beast was clubbed to death by a shower 
of blows from the hunters before it could summon up 
courage to spring, it was seldom that any man was 
wounded in such a hunt. It sometimes happened, how- 
ever, that an animal, wounded but not stunned, had time 
to spring upon its assailants, clawing and tearing them 
badly. Such mishaps were regarded as due to magic 
rather than to the natural ferocity of the scared beast. 

It is singular how fearless of wild animals herdsmen 
become ; they will drive away lions from their herds of 
cattle with no other weapon than a stick, and even by 
night they seldom resort to the use of a spear to protect 
the cows. As pythons are also sacred the people never 
kill one, unless it has become a menace to the lives of 
children and the priest has condemned it as merely a 
dangerous reptile and not the possessor of any royal spirit. 

The people of this region enjoy good health and are 
quite as free from serious illnesses as other African tribes. 
They have many strange ideas as to the cause of illness, 

Ankole— Ceremonies of the Bahuma 85 

so that, when they have anything wrong with them, they 
are subjected to a great amount of doctoring. The 
medicine-man is called in not only to cure the patient, 
but also to decide whether the sickness is caused by magic, 
and, if so, to discover who has been at work and why. 
As a cure he may order the patient to drink an infusion 
of herbs ; or he may advise blistering, which is done by 
applying a hot iron to the skin over the painful place; 
at other times he orders the application of a plaster of 

When a man of the ordinary class is said to be under 
the influence of magic, it is the duty of the relatives to 
do ,what they can to have the curse removed, and they 
employ a man who professes to have the necessary know- 
ledge and power. Should he pronounce the illness to be 
the work of a ghost, he has to discover whether it is a 
ghost belonging to the clan or some hostile ghost from 
another clan that is at work. A ghost belonging to the 
family may give trouble and cause epilepsy because the 
family as a whole has transgressed in some way, or be- 
cause some member of it has committed an immoral act 
which the ghost resents. Ghosts are ever watching over 
the affairs of the clan to keep its members from straying 
from the right path. On the other hand, ghosts from 
other clans may come with evil intent, causing illness 
or possibly death. Those have to be captured and 
destroyed; but the ghost of a member of the clan has 
to be persuaded to forgive the offence and come out of 
the patient, and to accomplish this the relatives will give 
it large presents of cattle. 

Ghosts often become rich in cows, and each day, after 
the morning and evening milkings, the milk from these 
cows is placed before the shrine and left for a time so 

86 The Soul of Central Africa 

that the ghost may absorb the essence. Then the owner 
or head of the family calls his children together, and in 
the presence of the ghost they drink what remains. For 
this purpose there is in every home a shrine before which 
milk is placed for the ghost, and where it comes twice 
daily to visit the family and to have its meal. It can 
come and go as it wishes, and, though it cannot be seen, 
it is looked upon as a member of the family. 

More ceremonial importance is attached to sickness 
in a herd than in a household. When sickness or plague 
appears among cows the owner of the kraal sends a 
messenger hastily to the chief medicine-man to come 
and ascertain and remove the cause and prescribe 
remedies. This king of the medicine-men is received with 
honour, a special house is prepared for him, a bull is 
killed, and he is feasted on the best they can provide. 
His general procedure is first to inspect the herd and 
listen to all the men have to say, and then to take the 
omens. This is usually done over the body of a goat 
or a sheep, but in more serious cases over that of a bull. 
The animal is killed, and by watching the flow of blood 
from the severed arteries and noticing markings on the 
liver and small intestines he forms his verdict. In the 
evening another bull is selected to be the bearer of the 
disease of the herd. The medicine-man takes a bunch 
of herbs, rubs them over each of the cows, and ties them 
round the neck of the bull. The animal is then marched 
round the outside of the kraal several times and returned 
to the herd for the night. At dawn the medicine-man 
and his assistants kill the bull in the kraal gateway ; the 
blood is caught in vessels and the inhabitants and cattle 
are all sprinkled with a brush of herbs dipped in the 
blood. The next procedure is for the people to pass 


Ankole—Geremonies of the Bahuma 87 

out of the kraal over the dead bull, and the cows are 
then made to jump over it as they go out. The disease 
is thus transferred to the bull and the rest of the herd 
go out free, to be treated later with some herbal remedy 
for their sickness. The herbs from the neck of the bull 
are tied over the doorway to keep the disease from 

When a man who is not of royal blood dies, his body 
is buried on the same day in the dungheap in the kraal. 
The grave must not go deeper than the dung ; when the ' 
earth is reached the men cease to dig. The body is 
washed and the legs are bent up under the chin in the 
favourite squatting attitude. It lies on the right side with 
both hands under the right cheek, and is wrapped in the 
cowskin on which the man used to lie. The body remains 
in the house until the cows return from pasture and are 
in the kraal, after which it is taken for burial. That night 
none of the cows is milked, nor may the calves be fed, 
and during the night the cows low continually and the 
calves call to their dams. The people sit outside by the 
gate of the kraal, where fires are lit, and not even the 
small children are allowed to sleep. They weep and 
mourn when the body is taken to its resting-place, and 
they continue to mourn till the heir comes. As until 
that time none of the mourners may enter his house to 
rest, it is customary for the heir to come early in the 
morning following the funeral. When he arrives, the 
chief bull of the dead man's herd is killed and cut up 
for the food of the mourners ; then the cows are milked 
and brought to stand near the entrance of the kraal. The 
milk vessels and other utensils are brought out from the 
house and inspected, those that are faulty being destroyed 
by the grave, while the rest are placed ready for purifica- 

88 The Soul of Central Africa 

tion. The heir next brings a favourite sister to act as 
the purifier from the taint of death. She is given a bowl 
containing a mixture of white clay and water and a bunch 
of herbs. With these she sprinkles first the heir, then 
his relatives and friends, then the cattle, and ends by 
throwing her bunch of herbs towards a few cows, generally 
the pick of her father's herd, which thereupon become 
her property. Women, as a rule, cannot possess 
property, this custom of a sister taking a few cows after 
purifying the inheritance of her brother being an ex- 
ception, and apparently a relic of an old law of matrilineal 
descent, when property went to the son of a man's sister 
rather than to his own son. Even here the cows can 
hardly be considered entirely the woman's property, 
for unless she has a son she may not take them away, 
and if she has a son they are regarded as belonging 
to him. 

After the purificatory rites are ended the heir usually 
gives a few cows to the ghost of the deceased, and these 
cannot be taken away or used for any purpose without 
the sanction of the ghost, which must be obtained through 
the priest, who ascertains its wishes by oracle. The milk 
from the cows is placed daily before a shrine made by 
the heir near his own bed. After the death of the owner 
of a kraal new bulls have to be introduced into the herd, 
as all the fully-grown male animals are offered to the 
dead during the days of mourning. They are used as 
food for the mourners, who may drink no milk during 
this period, nor may they come into the presence of the 
king until they are purified. The mourning ordinarily 
lasts two or three days, and the mourners are isolated 
from other people. In the case of an important chief, 
however, the mourning may last six months, the relatives 



Ankole— Ceremonies of the Bahuma 89 

living at a distance from the rest of the clan the whole 
of the time. 

Should a man die childless, his widow becomes the 
wife of one of his brothers; and should she then have 
children, the eldest boy is called the son of the dead 
man and inherits his property. 

The heir to a property does not remain in the old 
kraal long after his succession, but chooses a new site, 
which is not necessarily far from the old one. When 
he removes he pays no further attention to the grave; 
but he is careful to build a new shrine in the house 
near his bed, so that the ghost still retains its home in 
the family. Besides this shrine in the house, there is a 
small hut built outside, near the kraal gate, which is also 
dedicated to the ghost. 

A woman is not given so much honour at her death. 
Her husband sees that she is buried in the cowdung 
heap, and he probably obtains a new wife from the same 
family, who is then known as the heir of the first wife. 
She will care for any children there may be, and will 
also keep the memory of their mother fresh in their 
minds. The property of a woman is practically nil, 
probably only a few milk-pots, and she is not expected 
to have much influence in the next world. A woman 
is entirely under the rule of her husband, and she seldom 
desires any other arrangement. 

In all marriage ceremonies cows, milk, and the milk- 
pots play a prominent part in the pledges. A bride shows 
that she accepts the man as her husband by taking a 
mouthful of milk and squirting it over him. Up to this 
time she has very probably never seen the man, so that 
there is no question of love ; expediency and custom alone 
prompt the desire of the parties to enter their new estate. 

90 The Soul of Central Africa 

When the bridegroom brings his bride home she is accom- 
panied by a number of girl friends, who remain with her 
two or three days. During the first evening when the 
bridegroom goes to see his bride, the girl friends contest 
his entrance; they fight him and his companions, biting 
and scratching them until they bleed freely. This simu- 
lated protest is very probably the remnant of an old 
custom of marriage by capture. In my former notes 
in " The Northern Bantu " I have described a custom 
still more closely resembling marriage by capture : " The 
bridegroom enters the kraal and is conducted to the hut 
in which the bride stands waiting, wearing the usual 
dress of women, which covers her from head to foot. He 
takes her right hand and leads her forth from the house 
and out of the kraal to the assembled guests. A strong 
rope is produced by one of the bride's relatives and tied to 
the bride's leg. Sides are then chosen by members of 
the bride's and bridegroom's clans, and a tug-of-war takes 
place. The bride's clan struggle to retain their sister, 
and the bridegroom's clan strive to carry her off. During 
this contest the bride stands weeping because she is being 
taken from her old home and relatives ; it is the correct 
thing to do. The bridegroom stands by her, holding her 
hand, and when the final pull is given in his favour he 
slips the rope from her ankle and hurries her a few yards 
to a group waiting near with a cowhide spread on the 
ground. The bride sits upon this, and the young men 
raise her up and rush off with her in triumph to the 
bridegroom's parents' house, chased by relatives and 

For two or three days before the marriage a few 
friends of the bridegroom remain at the bride's home 
completing the final arrangements, and a parting feast 

Ankole— Ceremonies of the Bahuma 91 

is held. Then in the evening of the wedding day there 
is the ceremony of carrying the bride home. This is timed 
so that she may arrive as the cows are returning from 
pasture, for the bride who enters with the returning 
herd will be a mother and a happy wife and bring luck 
to the kraal. As she enters she scatters a few seeds on 
the ground, thus sowing plenty and prosperity. She is 
received into her new home as a daughter and sits first 
in the lap of her father-in-law and then in that of her 
mother-in-law. Then she is taken to rest by her mother- 
in-law for a short time before drinking some of the fresh 
milk warm from the cows. A young married couple may 
remain with the bridegroom's parents until their first 
baby is born before they seek a home of their own, and 
during this time the bride takes part with her mother-in- 
law in the duties of the household. 

When a child is born the mother is kept in seclusion 
for a week, and a nurse is appointed to care for the child. 
This is usually an elderly woman related to the husband, 
who has complete charge of the child and cares for it until 
she dies. As a rule a mother will nurse her baby for three 
years, during which period she is separated from her 
husband. In some instances, however, babies are taken 
from their mothers after a few weeks and weaned ; they 
are then fed on cow's milk, while the mother goes back 
to her husband and her household duties. 

If the child is a boy, the father places him at the age 
of four months on the back of a cow and gives him a 
name. This cow becomes the property of the child and 
provides him with milk. A girl is the special care of the 
mother, who gives her a name, taking her to the door 
and pointing out the four corners of the globe as the 
quarters from which her wealth comes. At the age of 

92 The Soul of Central Africa 

four months a girl is usually bespoken in marriage. Some 
man of another clan presents her parents with one or two 
cows and she is thereupon betrothed to his son. These 
cows provide the child with milk in infancy and form part 
of the marriage dowry. The first four or five years of a 
child's life are a happy time, though the children, like 
those of our own country, long to grow up, thinking that 
to be men and women means to enjoy life. When they 
are five years old they begin to be responsible for some 
duties either in the kraal or in the house ; and at the age 
of nine girls are shut up and, to improve their appear- 
ance in preparation for marriage, are fattened to such an 
extent that they find it difficult even to move from room 
to room. Boys have to learn all about the cows and go 
to the pastures with them, and have also to take their 
part in keeping the kraal clean. 

The wife has her duties in the kraal. She has to wash 
and dry the milk vessels and place them on the sacred 
dais before the shrine until the evening time, when the 
cows return to be milked. Then she has to hand the pots 
to the milkman. Each cow has its own milk-pot, and 
the milk must not be mixed indiscriminately, as some 
cows are taboo to the owner. For instance, he may not 
drink the milk from a cow which has a calf only two or 
three days old ; the milk from such a cow may not be 
drunk by any married person, but only by a young boy, 
who has to refrain from drinking any other milk. Should 
these restrictions be neglected, the cow will cease to give 
milk and the calf will die. Some cows belong to the 
ghost of a member of the family, and the milk has to be 
set aside before the shrine for the ghost's use. Some 
again may have drunk salt water, according to the custom 
of the tribe for doctoring animals, and that day their milk 

Ankole—Ceremonies of the Bahuma 93 

may not be used by the owner or his family, but is given 
to the herdsmen. It is the duty of the wife to see that 
these taboos and restrictions are observed. Then, too, 
there is milk to be set aside for the herdsmen, and some 
must be kept for making butter. All this has to be 
decided and arranged daily before the milk is drunk. 



Ankole — Sacred Drums — Western Ankole and the Pastoral People 
— Kigezi and the Agricultural People — The Bakyiga — Lake 
Edward — The Bakunta — Crossing the Ferry — Toro Salt-works. 

DURING my stay in Mbarara, the capital of 
Ankole, I paid frequent visits to the king, and I 
was able to see and photograph a house in which 
are the only drums which this king or his people possess. 
It was a surprise to discover that these people have never 
been in the habit of using drums in any of their ceremonies 
or dances. This is most unusual, for the African in 
general is utterly devoted to his drum ; he learns even in 
babyhood to beat it, and, should it for any reason fail 
him, he will improvise something to give forth a similar 
sound. Though the people of Ankole do not use drums, 
the king has come into possession of two. These are small, 
some two feet high and eighteen inches in diameter, and 
the skin on them is white cowhide with a black strip 
let in across the middle. They are kept in a hut, which 
is dome-shaped and has no pinnacle. As the hut has 
only a low doorway to admit both air and light, it is rather 
dark, and the drums lie side by side on a stand facing 
the door, thus giving, as you enter, the impression of 
two great eyes staring at you. On the floor on either 
side stand several drums, which are of a later date and 
of less importance than the chief drums, being, as it 




Ankole and Kigezi 95 

were, attendants upon them. Under the stand there is 
a row of milk-pots belonging to the sacred drums; for 
these drums are fetishes, and are supposed to have spirits 
and to be able to bring good or evil to the country. A 
large herd of cows also belongs to them, and daily the 
milk from a number of these is brought and placed before 
them. The drum-spirits drink the essence of the milk, 
and later the priest and priestess drink what is left as a 
sacred meal in the presence of the drums. 

At one time these drums were kept in a shrine at 
some distance from the king's residence ; they might not 
be on the same hill as he, and a stream of water must 
run between them and him. When the king became a 
Christian he had the drums brought to his own hill, but 
in the minds of most of the people they retain their old 
importance ; the priest cares for them as of old, and their 
milk is given to them each day with certain ceremonies. 
Each new king had the drums restrung at the commence- 
ment of his reign, and a rumour, which I could not 
verify owing to the reticence of the priests, stated that 
when the drums were repaired there was always a human 
sacrifice, and the blood of the victim was allowed to run 
into them. 

On the same hill, near the hut of the drums, there 
is another hut to which princesses go when they marry. 
In Ankole princesses are allowed to marry, another 
custom in which the Ankole Bahuma differ from all other 
pastoral tribes, whose princesses are forbidden to marry 
anyone except their half-brothers, and, if they break the 
rule, are punished by death. In this hut there is an 
attempt at decoration, patterns being painted in red, 
white and black over the common clay plaster of the 
walls. This was the only attempt at painting which I 

96 The Soul of Central Africa 

found in the country, and it consisted only of straight 
lines arranged in geometrical patterns. The king in- 
variably chooses the husband for any princess, and she may 
not marry without his consent. The husband must come 
and reside with her for a few nights in this special hut, 
and by their coming there the marriage is supposed to be 
blessed and made fruitful, so that the couple live happily 
together, enjoy good health, and have a large family. 

After having spent fully three months in the capital, 
I thought it time to leave and visit the kraals in the 
country, in order to obtain a better idea of the homes 
of the people. During my stay the Government officials 
were extremely kind and helpful to me, the Provincial 
Commissioner, Mr. SulHvan, being ever willing to further 
any project, while his assistant, Mr. Filleul, the son of 
an old friend, was no less ready. The Government station 
was only a mile away, so that I could go over and see 
them whenever I wished, and my stay in the neighbour- 
hood passed very pleasantly. 

The western part of Ankole is much more hilly than 
the capital, and there are a large number of extinct 
volcanoes, the craters of many of them being now occu- 
pied by lakes. In some instances the slope down to these 
lakes is very precipitous, while in others it can be de- 
scended, though the climb down calls for some care. In 
some of the larger depressions I could see that the 
agricultural people had made little gardens, and the vege- 
tation on the sloping sides, which led to a comparatively 
level bottom some four hundred feet below, had, as seen 
from the sunmiit, quite a picturesque effect. 

On the top of one of these hills I had a side-slip and 
a fall from my bicycle. I was riding on a fairly level place 
along the ridge of a mountain, and had gone about half 



Ankole and Kigezi 97 

a mile when a boy ran out in front of me. Seeing the 
bicycle, he shot ahead as though afraid, and I continued 
at a gentle pace in order to let him get away. He ran 
on in front and went straight on down the side of the 
hill into a garden of plantains. 1 followed, not noticing 
that he had left the path, which there took a sharp turn. 
I was too late either to pull up or to turn, and in my 
attempt to keep the path the machine shot from under 
me and I fell, to find myself looking over the side of 
one of these deep craters. Luckily there was no harm 
done, but it might have been serious, as I might easily 
have been precipitated either into the crater or down the 
side of the hill among the plantains. In England such 
a corner would have been marked "Dangerous for 
Cyclists," but I had no such warning. I mounted again 
and went slowly down the hill with both brakes on, keep- 
ing the machine as far as possible under control, and 
holding myself in readiness to jump should I come on 
a bad place in the road or should the slope become too 
steep for me to control my speed. 

As I journeyed towards Kigezi I left the road usually 
taken and wandered about a little to see the life of the 
pastoral people, and the visits I paid to some of the 
kraals by the way were both pleasant and instructive. 
Sometimes I found large herds of cows, and saw the 
little kraals, into which they were crowded by night, sur- 
rounded by the men's huts, with a rough fence of thorns 
between them completing the circle and keeping the 
animals together. The huts were built with doorways 
but no doors, so that the men, as they lay on their beds, 
could see their cows, and could easily come out to protect 
them should the visit of some wild animal create any 
disturbance during the night. In one kraal the chief 


98 The Soul of Central Africa 

had built a scaffolding some twelve feet high, with a 
cover over it and a wall on two sides. From this, he in- 
formed me, he intended to watch for a lion which had 
on several occasions attacked his cows, and was becoming 
so persistent in its attentions to his herd that he had 
decided to shoot it. 

I wanted to visit a place called Kyagamba, where dwelt 
a Muganda chief who had been placed there by the British 
Government to stop the inroads of the Bakyiga in the 
past, and to try to reduce the country to some kind of 
order. The road I took to the enclosure of Kasuju, the 
chief in question, led through a mountain pass which was 
formerly the route followed by most people when going 
to Kigezi, but which is no longer used. In some places 
the way led through passes of the mountains, and the 
path ran well up the sides of the hills. Beneath, in the 
valley, flowed a stream of water, and above, the tops of 
the mountains seemed to reach the sky and penetrate 
into the blue. In some places the gorge was so narrow 
that the sun did not reach the valley until it was high 
in the heavens; the mountains were like walls on either 
side above and below me. Sometimes these walls were 
rocky and showed formations which would rejoice the 
heart of the geologist and repay him well for his investi- 
gation, for he would find specimens enough to occupy 
and interest him for many a day. Here the rock would 
look like layers of slate laid flat one upon another, while 
a little farther on the layers would stand on end, rising 
many feet. In one place traces of what appeared to be 
iron were abundant, and then there would be a change 
to what looked like quartz and hard stone. One such 
pass in particular seemed a very paradise for the geologist, 
for the outcrops of rock on the hillside were very varied, 

Ankole and Kigezi 99 

and loose stones, with here and there large pieces of talc, 
lay about in all directions. The fascination of the ever- 
changing scenery and the interest of these varying rock 
formations made it a path through an enchanted land. 

At times on this journey my bicycle became some- 
what of a trial, for I had to push it up many steep places 
where the task of keeping my own feet was one of 
difficulty, and the added burden of having to push the 
machine threatened to prove too much for my strength. 
It was a relief when a comparatively smooth place would 
permit me to ride a short distance, resting from my 
severe exertions and making, at the same time, more 
satisfactory headway towards my destination. 

I visited one kraal, where I found a few people at 
home, and I managed to obtain two or three photographs 
of women. It was interesting to find how strictly they 
observed the custom of keeping themselves veiled before 
men. The son of one of the women was with me, and 
his mother refused to unveil until he had gone away, 
when she allowed her face and shoulders to be exposed 
for me to photograph. These women were still fairly 
fat, though they had not nearly so many cows as formerly 
to supply them with milk, the plague of rinderpest having 
passed through the district and carried off a great number 
of their cattle. It was singular to find how some tracts 
of country had escaped that distressing plague, so that 
the cows were in good condition and the people com- 
fortably well off, whereas in other places there was not 
a cow to be found. 

At Kyagamba I visited one of the Government 
inoculation qamps, and for some time watched the men 
at work. The cowmen were very unwilling to have their 
cows inoculated ; they had no faith in preventive measures, 

100 The Soul of Central Africa 

and it was only force majeure, the authority of the British 
officer, that made them comply. 

Near this place is a beautiful lake called Mwoka. This 
is merely a widening out of the River Rufuki, which here 
reaches a width of fully half a mile over a distance of 
possibly ten miles, forming this fine lake among the hills. 
Here I witnessed what might have been a serious accident 
to one of the natives on the Government inoculation staff. 
Some of them had gone out on a papyrus raft and dived 
off it into the water; in a few moments we saw to our 
horror that one of them was unable to swim and was 
drowning. It was with difficulty that we succeeded in 
attracting the attention of his companions, and he had 
already goiie down twice before they went to his assist- 
ance, caught him, and towed him into shallow water. It 
was fortunate that they happened to be Christian lads, 
for otherwise they would have left him to drown as a 
victim to the dreaded water-spirits. Most Africans are 
in terror of these water-spirits, believing that they attack 
certain people when in the water and drown them. The 
Baganda are most superstitious in this respect, and will 
leave a companion who has got into difficulties in deep 
water to drown, because they fear the water-spirit will 
resent it if any help be given, and will avenge himself 
upon the rescuer at some future time. The lake is a 
fine sheet of water fringed with trees and dotted with 
islands. Hippopotami were noisy during the night, but 
we slept in comfort without any fear of them. 

At this camp I got one of the two punctures which 
my bicycle suffered during the hundreds of miles I rode 
it. On this occasion I was not riding, but had allowed 
a man to push the machine through some tall grass, where 
a large thorn pierced the tyre. In all my wanderings. 

Ankole and Kigezi loi 

in spife of the rough paths and the steep mountain de- 
scents, I never had a breakdown or any serious trouble. 
This speaks highly for the bicycle and tyres which I used, 
for it required excellent materials and workmanship to 
give such complete satisfaction in wilds where delay is 
tiresome, and at times even dangerous, owing to the 
risks run from exposure to the tropical sun. 

When we crossed the boundary of Ankole into the 
Kigezi district the country became wilder and fewer cattle 
people were found, the true inhabitants, who were en- 
countered here and there, being an agricultural tribe. 
These people of Kigezi are mountaineers, and find the 
steep hill-sides no difficulty ; their fields extend up the 
slopes of the mountains and are marked off from each 
other by ridges where the weeds and stones are gathered 
together. After a few seasons the fields become regular 
plateaux, for the rains wash the earth from the higher 
ground against these ridges and form terraces raised above 
the lower fields. As I wandered along a path on the 
side of a mountain and looked over to the opposite side 
of the valley the fields looked as though they were laid 
out in terraces and fenced. Some were planted with 
peas, which were in full bloom, with blossoms of three 
or four colours — a sight quite new to me, as I had never 
seen edible peas with any but white blossom. Cattle 
plague had not penetrated into this district, and at each 
camp there was an abundance of milk to be obtained ; 
indeed, in many places pots of milk were presented in 
such quantities that I had to refuse some of it. 

It was my desire to see something of the pygmies in 
Kigezi, but I found they had left and, having crossed 
into Belgian territory, were out of reach. I had been 
told that they had formed a camp in Kigezi, and I had 

102 The Soul of Central Africa 

hoped to spend a few days with them to learn some of 
their habits by actual observation of their life. It .was 
regrettable to find them gone and not to be able to learn 
where they had encamped. There were traces of their 
presence in the shape of large devastated areas, from 
which the people had fled in fear of the pugnaciousness 
and rapacity of these pygmies. 

Cerebro-spinal meningitis was prevalent in the far 
part of Kigezi, which made it unwise to go farther west 
with carriers, who are always liable to contract disease 
.when marching. I therefore spent some days among the 
Bakyiga, whom I found to be a wild set of people without 
any cohesion or regard for authority. The more I learned 
of them the more their customs reminded me of those 
of the Bagesu on Mount Elgon, but I found no one who 
could give me any satisfactory account of their early 
migrations. They themselves could give no account of 
their forefathers, merely stating that their history only 
went back two generations, to their great-grandfathers. 
There are a number of clans, each possessing its own 
totem and social arrangements. The women are hard 
workers, each wdfe being provided with a field from which 
she obtains enough food to support herself and her 
children and to help to keep her husband. The husbands 
are the real ow^ners of the land, and when they marry 
the wife is given what is considered sujB&cient to support 
her and any children she may have. Each husband has 
his own cultivated plot, the produce from which he uses 
for his own purposes, for brewing, bartering or for food. 
If he has more than one wife, each of them sets aside 
a portion of food for him from her own harvest store. 
This is kept and cooked for the husband whenever he 
pays a visit to the wife. Each wife assists the husband 

Ankole and Kigezi 103 

in cultivating his land, and he in turn helps her to dig 
hers. In the home there is little order or idea of comfort, 
and the amount of affection shown by a mother for her 
child is but small. When the children are well and can . 
run about they lead a happy life, but when one of them 
falls sick it gets little sympathy or attention. The mother 
seldom remains at home to nurse her child ; she merely 
places some food, either porridge or potatoes, near it, and 
then leaves it to eat or not, to live or die. 

The men are the most unruly I met with in all my 
journeyings; they have no respect for old or young, if 
they come from another village, but will spear down 
anyone they meet who is not of their locality. It is 
dangerous for a man to make the shortest of journeys 
alone ; even when he goes to dig his field he is in danger 
of being killed ; he must carry his weapons with him and 
keep them at hand, as he may be attacked at any moment. 
Even men of the same village are easily aroused to anger 
against each other, and will use their spears freely, 
wounding or killing anyone upon the slightest provoca- 
tion. Murder was said to be quite common, even though 
the murderer had to pay the penalty by losing his own 
life in a manner which one would think was sufficiently 
terrifying to restrain him, for he was buried alive under 
the body of the man he had murdered. 

In this district, when a man wants to marry he kid- 
naps the woman he wants, and then, from some place 
of safety, calls to her relatives and informs them of what 
he has done. Girls are prepared for this mode of mar- 
riage, and, when they are once installed in a home of 
their own, they seldom attempt to run away. The relatives 
are asked to come to some particular place to receive the 
dowry, which is placed ready for them in accordance 

104 The Soul of Central Africa 

with an accustomed scale ; they may then demand more 
than the amount paid, and arbitration may last for some 
weeks before both parties are satisfied. Little friendship 
between members of different clans arises from the new 
relationships; the bride's brothers retain their spirit of 
enmity against the other clan, and will kill their brother- 
in-law as readily as they would before he married their 

Men may marry more than one wife, and frequently 
have three and at times four, though two is the most 
common number. The wives are always taken to live 
with the husband, who builds each her own house in his 
compound. A strange feature about these marriages is 
the complete lack of friendship between the different wives 
of the same man. Should one wife fall sick and die, the 
other will take little, if any, notice of the motherless 
children ; and, unless there has been some previous bond 
of union or friendship between the mothers, the second 
will not pay the slightest attention even to a helpless 
child of the dead woman. The father has to care for it 
as best he can. This spirit of unfriendliness is unusual 
among African tribes, where, should a mother die, some 
relative is almost always found to adopt a baby. 

I found in Kigezi a capable Government officer of 
the Civil Service, doing admirable work in reducing these 
wild people to order. His task requires great tact, be- 
cause there has been no recognized ruler among them, 
and any taxation is hotly resented. As I was leaving 
the country I was informed that one or two native servants 
of the Government staff had been murdered while trying 
to help some villagers to preserve their cattle from rinder- 
pest. The people mistook the proffered assistance for 
interference with intent to rob, and used their spears 

Ankole and Kigezi 105 

before matters could be explained. At one camp a man 
who was the worse for drink tried to force his way into 
my tent, and when opposed by some of his companions 
.was about to use his spear. He had to be overpowered 
and disarmed, whereupon he proceeded to make himself 
troublesome by hurling great stones at the men who were 
trying to keep order. 

From the capital of Kigezi we journeyed along the 
eastern side of Lake Edward, seeing many people who 
do not often have visits from strangers; some of these 
showed timidity, though curiosity more frequently over- 
came fear. The mountain tracks proved trying when 
the bicycle had to be pushed up them in the heat of the 
day, though it seemed worth the trouble when I reached 
any fairly level place .where I could ride, for not only 
did I cover more ground than if I had had to walk, but 
it was a rest to sit on the machine. On this journey it 
was necessary to employ fresh porters daily, as the men 
would not go more than one stage carrying loads. The 
men had to be engaged in the afternoon and evening, 
and usually came in the early morning soon after five 
o'clock, carrying off the cases and tent as soon as they 
could see; if an extra early start had to be made they 
slept in the camp. I seldom found any man who shirked 
or did not turn up to carry his load, and I was able to 
go on ahead to the next camp agreed upon, leaving the 
men to follow. When they came into camp they assisted 
in erecting the tent, and then went away perfectly 
satisfied with a small payment in the Uganda currency. 

Soon after I reached each camp I found myself the 
object of much curiosity, and men came to look at me. 
As I was well ahead of the porters I had thus an oppor- 
tunity of chatting with them and gathering information 

io6 The Soul of Central Africa 

for some two or three hours before the goods came along. 
Whenever possible I found one of the Government rest- 
houses and sat in it. These houses are to be found in 
most places, because the District Officer makes periodical 
visits to each part of a district, and the chiefs gather to 
that centre to meet him. It was only when I heard of 
some place of interest or of some village specially worth 
a visit that I left the usual rest-house and made my 
camp in some out-of-the-way place. As a rule it was 
preferable to visit these district centres when making the 
journey, because there m^n could be got through the 
native agent who resides in the vicinity, and also because 
there are well-defined roads from rest-house to rest-house. 
It was always possible to save time by wandering off from 
the rest-house, after the porters had arrived, to visit any 
place of interest or to take photographs. Usually, how- 
ever, I had plenty of work to do when a camp was 
reached, for I would generally find some men who would 
be willing to sit and chat, and from whom I gathered 
information of value for general survey work. At each 
camp it was possible to obtain food and, as a rule, milk, 
and the person who brought it would be amply satisfied 
with a small present. As I had no escort of police with 
me, I generally asked the chief of the place to supply 
two or three men to sleep near my goods and protect 
them from thieves during the night. These guards often 
supplied me with useful information concerning their 
tribe and its customs. When evening came I did not 
sit up long, for I had to remember the early hour at 
which it was necessary to rise and prepare for the march ; 
therefore at eight o'clock I shut up the tent and retired 
to rest. 

During the whole expedition there was never any 

Ankole and Kigezi 107 

night disturbance ; wild animals might be heard in the 
distance, but every traveller expects that, and they never 
disturbed the camp. On one or two occasions there were 
heavy thunderstorms which threatened to bring down 
the tent. One storm experienced on this part of the 
journey was terrific, and I thought the guard had been 
killed by lightning, which struck some trees quite close. 
The thunder was deafening, and the rain came down in 
torrents, flooding the ground all round. Fortunately the 
tent w^as pitched on rising ground, so that the water 
quickly ran away. When the storm was over I found 
that Ihe guard were safe in a hut near, though they 
confessed to having been startled by the severity of the 

When leaving the Ankole district, which we had had 
to re-enter on its western boundary before reaching the 
ferry between Lakes Edward and George, I travelled 
through some of the most beautiful scenery of the whole 
tour. The mountains are covered with magnificent 
forests, with much fine timber, ' sometimes extending 
from the valleys to the very summits, and the sight in 
the early morning, when the rays of the rising sun fell 
upon the varied green of the foliage, was most striking. 
The path often skirted the mountains, winding in and 
out at a height of five to six thousand feet above sea 
level; in places the gradients were such that it was 
possible to ride a bicycle for two or three miles without 
dismounting to push it over the crest of a hill. In some 
places the cone-shaped hills were found to be extinct 
volcanoes with the sloping sides of the crater clothed with 
grass and trees and ending in a pool or small lake, making 
a pretty picture in the sunshine, for the tropical growth 
of creepers and often beautiful flowers showed amongst 

io8 The Soul of Central Africa 

the variously tinted foliage of the trees. Here and there 
streams trickling down the side of the mountain had to 
be crossed, and sometimes we encountered larger streams, 
over which fallen trees formed the only bridges. In other 
cases, however, the natives were being trained by Baganda 
agents of the Government to make better bridges, over 
which a bicycle could pass. Once or twice we came 
upon splendid waterfalls dashing down from a height of 
six or seven hundred feet into the rocky basin below, 
and flowing off in a fine river. Where these falls occurred 
the face of the rock was covered with ferns and flowering 
plants, which, watered by the spray, grew fresh and green. 
Where natives had settled, these mountain sides were 
cultivated in the most primitive manner, but in most 
places Nature had her own way undisturbed by man. 
The natives confined their work principally to the cultiva- 
tion of the smaller kind of millet and potatoes, though 
here and there were fields of peas, which had blossoms 
of varied tints from deep red to white ; possibly the cooler 
atmosphere here is more favourable to the growth of 
peas than in most of this part of Africa. In Kigezi 
Mr. Phillips, the Commissioner, had a wonderful English 
garden in which potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery and 
cauliflowers grew freely. His strawberries were the finest 
I have seen or tasted in Africa. In addition to this 
garden he grows wheat and oats, grinds his own fiour 
and makes his own oatmeal. These facts will suffice to 
show that in such a country almost any kind of European 
produce could be procured by settlers. I found the 
nights rather cool, and from six to nine o'clock each 
morning there was a cool breeze which, with a mist that 
rose between eight and nine o'clock, made a fire quite 

Ankole and Kigezi 109 

As the expedition descended from the upper parts 
of the mountains we came upon plantains again. On 
the higher levels they yield no fruit and are not much 
grown. With plantains are found the various kinds of 
beans and maize and the larger millet. The cold of the 
higher mountains prevents these from making sufficient 
growth to encourage the natives to cultivate them. 

As the traveller passes along the mountain range in 
Kigezi and Western Ankole to Lake Edward he finds 
the country full of animal life ; and where there are many 
animals there are always lions about. At some of the 
places we passed they were said to be troublesome, 
attacking not only cows but men and women as well. 
At one place two men came to the camp at three o'clock 
in the afternoon, saying they had just escaped from three 
lions which stood in the road. Had one of the men 
been alone the beasts would in all probability have 
attacked him. The native chiefs asked me not to travel 
unaccompanied in the early morning, because omen were 
being attacked if they went to their fields alone at day- 
break. Probably the beasts of prey were suffering from 
scarcity of food, for many wild pigs and other animals had 
died from rinderpest. The lions were consequently forced 
out to hunt for food in the daytime, and attacked men. 
I often heard lions and other animals, but only once or 
twice saw them, and was never molested by them. 

Near Lake Edward there is a flat stretch of land, 
six to ten miles wide, lying between the foot of the 
mountains and the water, which is known as a sleeping 
sickness area. All the inhabitants have been ordered up 
the mountains, leaving the country to wild animals. 
Here we encountered small herds of antelope which were 
fairly tame and allowed me to pass near them without 

no The Soul of Central Africa 

fleeing away. I found that the inhabitants had been a 
people caUing themselves Bakunta, who were originally 
a Baganda tribe, and had had to flee from their country 
because their chief had killed a prince in battle. In 
Buganda, in the past, when a prince rebelled and fought, 
or when the king died and his sons fought for the throne, 
any chief who succeeded in killing one of the princes was 
at first highly applauded and given great honour, possibly 
even enriched by the king, who would give him lands 
and cattle. Before he had enjoyed these honours and 
rewards for many months the priests would come to the 
reigning king and tell him that the ghost of his brother 
demanded the life of the man who had killed him, for 
it was forbidden to shed the blood of a prince ; if one 
had to be killed, he must be strangled, burnt to death, 
or allowed to die from starvation. In the case of the 
chief of this Bakunta tribe it was the king for whom 
he had fought and whom he had rescued by killing his 
brother, who now sought his life. In spite of this obliga- 
tion, the king's fear of the vengeance of the ghost was so 
great that he turned against his rescuer and sought to 
destroy him. When the chief heard he was to be brought 
before the king for the service which had thus become 
an offence, he fled into Ankole; then, fearing he might 
still be captured, he went on to the shores of Lake 
Edward, w^here he settled down with a number of his 
retainers who had followed him. He became an import- 
ant chief, ruling over many of the local tribes who became 
incorporated with his original followers. The man has 
now been dead some years, but his followers and children 
still live, and just before entering the infected area I 
saw some of these descendants, who told me how the 
sleeping sickness had greatly reduced their number. The 

Ankole and Kigezi iii 

remainder have now been removed from their old country 
to the hills in order to be away from the infected area. 
I had heard of these people many years ago, and it was 
interesting to me now to meet some of them. 

Passing down into the plain to the ferry at Lake 
Edward, we entered the infected and deserted fly region, 
and had therefore to carry food with us for the night we 
spent before crossing to the lakeside. We found the heat 
of the plain trying after the cool nights in the mountains, 
and I knew how important it was to press on lest the 
men should be depressed and contract fever from mosquito 
bites, thus leaving me in the difficult position of being 
porterless in the hot plain. On the shores of the lake 
live the people who manage the canoes, and there is a 
Government agent in charge of them. On the Ankole 
side a chief takes toll from passengers for his king, while 
on the Toro side there is a chief acting for his master, 
the king of Toro. 

For several days before we reached the lake we found 
the road constantly traversed by men and women carry- 
ing large and heavy loads of salt home from the Katwe 
salt-works in Toro. These people travel from great 
distances in Ankole, and even from Buganda, taking 
animals or food or other kinds of barter goods which 
they know that the salt-makers require. When they 
reach the ferry they pay the canoe men a sum for the 
return journey, and, having gone to the salt-works to 
barter for their salt, are free to cross again when they 
return. The task of purchasing the salt may take several 
days, for the men are never in a hurry to start for home 
again, and they take some time over the bartering. 

We reached the ferry soon after seven o'clock, and 
as I had cycled in advance to prepare the ferrymen and 

112 The Soul of Central Africa 

secure canoes for the whole of my party, we were soon 
aboard. These are '* dug-out" canoes — that is, trunks 
of large trees hollowed out, and can carry two or three 
cows if necessary. My twenty loads and twenty-five men 
were soon seated in three of the largest, and we paddled 
over in a little more than an hour. The crossing is a 
fine expanse of clear water over a mile wide, where the 
current flowing from Lake George into Lake Edward is 
quite evident. Our canoe paddlers kept the bows point- 
ing up the stream and worked away merrily. There were 
numbers of water-birds flying about, most of them fish- 
eaters, while swallows darted here and there, skimming 
over the glassy surface and catching the midges. On 
the Toro side the landing is steeper than that in Ankole, 
which dips gently down to the water. 

When we had crossed I sent off the men by a short 
road to the camp, while I started for one of the more 
important salt-works. There are two places where the 
salt is worked, one giving the coarser kind and one a 
better grade, and I elected to go to the latter. I had 
to cycle off the main road and make a detour of some 
twenty-three or twenty-four miles out of my way to see 
this place. I had with me a cyclist guide, who showed 
me the nearest way, a path which was at times rough for 
the machines. However, we were able to ride most of 
the way, which was a comfort, for this proved certainly 
the hottest place I had been in. I was warned that we 
should find the heat trying for the men, and I found it 
quite true. 

When we reached the salt-works the head-man of the 
village kindly came to act as guide round the works. 
The place from which the salt is gathered is a depres- 
sion like a huge pond on the surface of fairly level 



Ankole and Kigezi 113 

ground ; it is nearly round, and about half a mile wide. 
At the bottom of this depression there is a stagnant 
pool, and scattered around are smaller pools. These are 
converted into holdings by the salt workers, each hold- 
ing comprising one or two pools varying in width from 
twenty to forty feet; they are made in the soft mud, 
and into each water is run by channels from the main 
pool. When the water in the small pool reaches a depth 
of about ten inches, the channel is stopped with a piece 
of clay and the stream diverted into another pool. The 
water is allowed to stand a day or two until a thick 
scum rises to its surface and hardens ; this is then 
scraped up, and the men carry it to their villages, where, 
assisted by their wives and children, they spread it out 
to dry. When dry, it is made up into packets varying 
from two to thirty pounds in weight, but in the market 
it was being sold by measure, not by weight, and the 
purchasers made up their packages according to the 
amount they wished to carry. The pools are kept con- 
stantly filled, so that the scum is always rising and 
hardening on them. 

The head-man told me that, so far as he knew, there 
was no spring in the depression; the water was, he 
thought, surface water which drained in after the rains, 
and the saline properties were derived from the earth. 
I am inclined, however, to think that there must be a 
boiling spring which gives its saline quahties to the 
water, because there are hot springs on both sides of the 
Luenzori range at places I have visited on former occa- 
sions. On the west side, in the Semliki Valley, there 
is a large boiling cauldron which overflows, leaving its 
salt along the banks of the stream, and these deposits 
are used by the natives themselves and for barter purposes. 

114 The Soul of Central Africa 

In the village .where the salt is dried and prepared 
for barter there are a number of huts in which the salt 
workers live. They do not trouble about cultivation, but 
devote their time to salt making, which is more remunera- 
tive. There are several guest-houses, which were full of 
people waiting for salt, and under a large hut were fully 
a hundred purchasers busily bartering animals, food and 
other goods for packages of salt. A man will carry as 
much as one hundred pounds' weight of salt and walk a 
hundred miles with it to retail it or to deliver it to his 
master for use in feeding the cattle. 

In the depression the sun was terribly hot, and I was 
glad to reach the higher ground. It was February and 
therefore the hottest part of the year, and grass fires 
were raging round, making the air thick with smoke 
and dust from the burnt grass. This added to the dis- 
comfort of travel and shut out the scenery; even the 
mountain range of Luenzori, which was only a mile or 
two from me, was invisible, and as I walked along the 
lower slopes I could not see the mountain-tops. Each 
day the dust and smoke rose in clouds, obscuring the 
high, snow-clad peaks of Luenzori, and I never once 
caught sight of the glacier. In the past I have often 
seen it, but during this tour I was not thus favoured. 

These grass fires burn for days and extend over large 
tracts of the hillsides, while the crackling of the burning 
trees can be heard distinctly miles away. By day nothing 
can be seen but clouds of dense smoke, while flocks of 
birds hover above, swooping down to attack any unfor- 
tunate animal trapped by the spreading fire. By night 
the hillsides are a mass of flame, and the picture is one 
of brilliant colour. 



Toro — Difficulties on the March — The Intense Heat — Crossing Rivers 
— Camp Routine — Kabarole and Fort Portal — Kasagama, King 
of Toro — Salt in the Semliki Valley — Hot Springs — Peoples on 
Luenzori Mountain — Mission Work in Kabarole — Journey to 
Lake Albert — ^Voyage to Butiaba — Arrival at Masindi — Work in 

HAVING seen the salt-works and taken a few 
photographs, I set out for my camp, and found 
that the way led over very rough country ; where 
there was a path it was never more than a foot wide, and 
at times even that disappeared, and I had to make my 
way over the rough roots of grass tufts where it was usually 
impossible to ride a bicycle. Fortunately, I had a guide 
who knew the country, for otherwise I could not have 
found the way. The grass was burnt off all round, and 
all paths and tracks were covered with dust and ash, 
which rose in a cloud and filled the air, while the sun 
beat down with tremendous power. 

I reached the appointed place of meeting at noon, 
only to find that no porters had yet appeared. We had 
arranged to meet and camp at a rest-house which had 
been built for Government officers travelling between 
Ankole and Toro. I found the place in a very neglected 
and forlorn condition, even falling to pieces, but it 
afforded a little shade from the fierce rays of the sun, 
and I sat down to read from the little store of literature 


ii6 The Soul of Central Africa 

.which I always carried with me for occasions when I 
could find no natives to question. Here I could not see 
a living soul, nor did I hear a sound which might indicate 
the presence of human beings in the neighbourhood. I 
tried in vain to quench my thirst with the small bottle 
of coffee which I had on my bicycle, and waited, trusting 
that the men would soon appear and end my discomfort. 
After a time, as there was no sign of them, I wandered 
out to try to find water, but a fine sheet about a mile 
away proved to be brackish, and I returned convinced 
that there was nothing to be done but to sit and wait. 

When I had parted from my porters at the ferry 
on Lake Edward to go to the salt-works, I had seen 
them start off in good style, singing and shouting, and 
I watched them out of sight before setting out on my 
road, which ran at right angles to theirs. I learned 
later that after a mile or two the heat began to tell upon 
them ; it was greater than they were accustomed to walk 
in, and even the path was unusually hot, so that their 
feet soon began to swell. They found it necessary to 
make frequent halts to rest, and at length my cook 
started on alone, fearing that I should be puzzled and 
disturbed by their protracted absence. It was he, there- 
fore, who first appeared, to find me in the camp near 
the salt lake, and to cheer me by the assurance that the 
men would come, though he feared it might not be until 
the cool of the day. His estimate of their powers was a 
just one, for it was nearing four o'clock before the last 
load was brought. The men as they arrived sat down 
holding their feet, while some of them even cried with 
the pam. 

In spite of these trying experiences I found, when 
the tent was pitched, that the thermometer did not 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 117 

register any excessive heat, though even now, in the late 
afternoon, it still felt far from cool ; in the shade of the 
tent the temperature was only a little over 105^, but it 
remained above 100° all through the night. The heat 
was made so excessively trying by the presence of 
moisture from the lakes and by the absence of any 
breeze, the place being shut in by mountains. 

The next difficulty was to get water and food. I 
had sent a man in advance from my camp of the previous 
night to warn the people of my approach and ask them 
to bring food for sale, but when he turned up at the 
camp his report was so unsatisfactory that I suggested 
to my guide that he should go and find out from the 
chief whether he intended to send food or not. My 
porters were men from Ankole, who had agreed to carry 
my goods to Fort Portal, and they could not be expected 
to know where to find food in this strange land. The 
usual well that supplied the camp was dry, and some of 
the men wandered about for two hours before they 
succeeded in finding water. Even then no one had 
appeared to supply us with either food or information. 
I waited until sunset, and as there was still no sign of 
anyone, I had my last goat killed and cut into small 
portions for the men, whereupon matters at once looked 
somewhat brighter, for the smallest bit of meat seems 
to give new life and vigour to the African. 

Fortunately, at seven o'clock some bundles of plan- 
tains and sweet potatoes .were brought, and the men were 
soon busy cooking and rapidly regained their usual cheer- 
ful frame of mind. The people who brought the food 
had walked from seven to eight miles, and had to stay 
the night in the camp ; their appearance with food and 
their chatter and light-hearted child-Uke gaiety com- 

ii8 The Soul of Central Africa 

pletely restored good humour among the porters, and I 
retired to bed feehng that the worst part of the trouble 
was ended. Matters had at one time looked very black, 
for the men had aflSrmed that they could go no farther, 
but intended to return home, leaving me to get on as 
best I could. Food and rest were therefore essential 
that they might recover their bodily strength and their 
customary cheeriness. Before I went to bed I saw them 
all comfortable and reconciled to going on, and their 
only request was that they might make an early start 
next day, leaving camp at about half-past three in the 
morning, in order to complete the day's march before 
the sun was too hot for comfortable walking. 

I learned that the people of this district lived on the 
upper slopes of the mountains and belonged to various 
cannibal tribes. They are not at all friendly to Europeans, 
and do not wish to be interfered with or to have any 
improvements introduced into their country; indeed, 
they are convinced that the advent of the white man 
^ill only add to their burdens and in no wise bring a 
blessing. The country which I traversed between Lake 
Edward and Kabarole, the native capital of Toro, was 
therefore thinly populated, though I did pass one or two 
small villages. After my experiences in Ankole and 
Kigezi, where food and cattle were plentiful and the supply 
of milk abundant, this change to scarcity proved most 
unpleasant. The paths, too, .were in poor condition; in 
some places I had to walk over long stony stretches, and 
in others over sand so deep that the bicycle wheels 
would not go through and the machine had to be carried 

Every night porters, either going to or returning from 
the salt-works, passed the camp at all hours. Both men 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 119 

and women .went to fetch salt, and they travelled in 
small parties, three, four, or six together. Because of 
the heat they walked by night, shouting and singing as 
they went along to scare off wild beasts. We heard from 
time to time the roaring of lions, while other animals 
grunted or growled around, but they never came very 
near our camp. One morning as I left the men in the 
dim light of a setting moon and the rising sun I almost 
ran into some animal like a leopard; at another place 
my boys were anxious about my safety because a lion 
appeared just after I had passed along the road. I, how- 
ever, had neither seen nor heard it, and went on happily, 
unconscious of its presence. 

On two marches I found the crossing of rivers a 
serious difficulty. I came upon the first of these after 
a run of a few miles in the early morning. It was some 
twenty yards wide, full of large stones, and two feet 
deep, rushing down from the mountains in a rapid 
stream. Fortunately, just as I finished my examination 
of the obstacle, a man with a load of salt came along, 
and I got him to carry first my bicycle and then myself 
over it. He was a sturdy fellow, and managed well, 
though the stones were slippery and the stream strong 
enough in places to make him stagger. Having got 
across, I thought my immediate troubles were over, for 
I had only heard of one stream on that march ; how- 
ever, I had only gone half a mile farther when I found 
another, which, though not so wide or so stony as the first, 
was deeper. In due time the man with his load of salt 
appeared again, and another *'tip" persuaded him to 
carry me and my machine over that stream also. 

From the river I cycled on until the spot for the camp 
was reached, and there I found a hut where I sat down 

120 The Soul of Central Africa 

to rest and read until the porters arrived. One of them 
had fallen in the water with a box of papers, but no 
serious harm was done, and the papers soon dried in the 
sun. On these marches in Toro I seldom found people 
to talk to, though now and then a pedestrian would stop 
and chat for half an hour, giving some information about 
the district, and at times I would find someone belonging 
to the place where I camped who could throw light upon 
the habits of the people. In Ankole it had always been 
possible to get into conversation with casual visitors and 
learn from them a good deal about the locality, their 
mode of government and their social customs before the 
porters arrived. When they appeared we saved time 
by following a regular routine : while the tent was being 
pitched the cook saw that I had some hght refreshment, 
and if any shed or hut was available I was able to begin 
writing up my notes of information secured from casual 
informants on the ,way and from early visitors to the 
camping-place. Meanwhile my bath was prepared, and 
I was able to get a change of clothes before settling down 
to the real work of investigation. 

By this time, if the district were inhabited, as in 
Ankole, the noise of the arrival of the porters would 
have attracted the attention of some of the natives, and 
they would have gathered round the camp. They ,were 
curious to see what the traveller was like, and were seldom 
in any hurry to go away, frequently sitting quite con- 
tentedly for three or four hours as we chatted. I was 
always successful in finding someone who knew a language 
in which we could converse and who could act as inter- 
preter between me and men who could not talk freely 
in any of the languages I understood. I was thus able 
to confirm and extend the information I had already 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 121 

collected and to clear up difficulties which had occurred 
to me in connexion with matters in the notes I had 
collected at the stations. At camps near the boundaries 
of districts I would often be able to gather some fresh 
items of information which were of great use as a basis 
on which to start work in the new district and among 
a new set of people. 

The people would often tell us legends about the 
places we passed, and my porters were much impressed 
by some of these. For example, the inhabitants of a 
village near one of the rivers informed us that if we 
wished to cross in safety we must do so in perfect silence, 
for higher up on the mountain there dwelt a water-spirit 
who must not know of our intention ; should he hear us 
coming, he would send down a flood of water, and either 
prevent our crossing or carry us away jvhen in mid-stream. 
The porters firmly believed in the danger, and when they 
drew near the river all road songs ceased, their voices 
sank to subdued whispers, and they crossed in anxious 
silence. I could have wished that the legend had been 
considered applicable to all cases, for in erossing a second 
river which ,was by no means so difficult as the stony 
stream guarded by the .water-spirit, two of my men, both 
carrying cases of paper, fell, and as a result my envelopes 
were badly damaged and my notebooks slightly injured. 
The mishap was wholly due to carelessness in crossing 
and to the man behind following too closely upon the 
heels of the man in front; but as a rule the men were 
most careful in carrying their loads and seldom fell, 
though it was often a puzzle to me how they managed 
to keep their feet on the paths down some of the 
mountain passes, for they were very steep and would 
sometimes drop suddenly, leaving a long downward step 

122 The Soul of Central Africa 

with nothing but a few small tufts of grass by which a 
man could steady himself. Only once did a load get 
damaged by a fall on the path, when a porter, carrying 
two chairs and a table, slid down a steep place on a moun- 
tain side. Even then, though the chairs were broken and 
the table damaged, none of them was rendered unusable. 
When we were nearing Kabarole, in Toro, I found 
I had lost from my bicycle the nut which held one side 
of the front wheel fork. It had got loose and dropped 
off while I was descending a steep path, but, fortunately, 
the other side of the fork held until I was able to dis- 
mount and examine the machine. I went back to look 
for the missing nut, but failed to find it, and had to 
secure the fork with string until I reached the Govern- 
ment station, which is at Fort Portal, about a mile from 
Kabarole, the native capital, and there I managed to get 
a satisfactory substitute. The road into the Govern- 
ment station was mostly downhill, and I had to ride 
cautiously, keeping the machine under control so that, 
if the string securing the front fork broke or was cut 
through, I should not have a serious fall. As I passed 
I called at the Church Missionary Society station and saw 
a former colleague, the Rev. A. B. Lloyd, who was pre- 
paring to set out for Kampala. At the Government 
station I found an old friend, Mr. Browning, with whom 
I stayed two or three days before starting for Lake 
Albert to coast along it to Bunyoro. As can easily be 
imagined, such glimpses of civilization and civilized society 
were most .welcome, both for the rest they afforded and 
for the opportunity of interchange of ideas, after days 
spent in practical solitude among primitive peoples and 
conditions. The Government officers I met were always 
hospitable and ready to share mth. me their stores of 


^^^ " ^ #'r 



Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 123 

knowledge concerning the people of their districts. This 
helped me greatly, for every scrap of information .was of 
value for my purpose. 

Toro is a modern kingdom, dating from the time 
when Captain Lugard visited the district to remove the 
Sudanese troops from Lake Albert, where they were 
causing trouble. These Sudanese troops were men whom 
Emin Pasha brought with him when he had to retreat 
south during the Sudan trouble, at the time when Gordon 
was killed in Khartoum. Stanley took Emin Pasha to 
Bagamoyo, on the east coast of Africa, and his troops 
were left for a time to the north of Lake Albert ; on his 
return, Emin was killed by the natives, and his troops 
were left leaderless and in a state of want. From this 
dijBBcult position Lugard rescued them and took them to 
Kampala. He was helped in this expedition by a Mun- 
yoro prince named Kasagama, who as a reward for his 
assistance was made King of Toro. 

This Kasagama was descended from a prince of 
Bunyoro who, on being sent by the king to collect 
tribute from his subject peoples on Luenzori, rebelled 
and refused to return to Bunyoro. He baffled the armies 
sent against him, rejected all efforts to reconcile him to 
his king, and lived as a rebel in Toro, gaining power 
over the tribes there. His son, Kasagama's father, 
declared himself the ruler of Toro and assumed kingly 
powers over the whole country, which was thus entirely 
lost to Bunyoro. Kasagama has not proved himself a 
reUable ruler; sometimes he has worked well .with the 
Government, but on other occasions his behaviour has 
been most uncertain, and several times he has narrowly 
escaped being deposed for his actions. His country is 
not thickly populated, and he has never succeeded in 

124 The Soul of Central Africa 

gaining the confidence of the cannibal tribes on the 
Luenzori mountain or in the Semliki Valley. 

The country of Toro is not so productive as other 
parts of the Protectorate, but in the crater region, where 
little cultivation has in the past been attempted, coffee- 
growing is proving a success. A few settlers have come 
into the country, and are experimenting in the cultiva- 
tion of coffee and cotton. The saltpans at Katwe, which 
I described in the previous chapter, are now in the posses- 
sion of the King of Toro, but they are not so productive 
as they used to be. In the Semliki Valley there is a boil- 
ing spring whose stream leaves a crust of salt along its 
banks. The natives near collect the sand from the 
stream, wash it, and evaporate the water to get the salt, 
though they do not carry on any systematic trade with 
it. The people in the neighbourhood are all fishermen, 
and grow only a little grain for their household needs, 
seldom more than is absolutely necessary. 

On the eastern side of the Luenzori range there are 
two or three places where boiling springs are to be found. 
In many of them the natives have for long been accus- 
tomed to take vapour baths when suffering from fever 
or rheumatism. At one place the bubbling of the water 
under a rock can be both heard and felt ; the people will 
tell you that a rock-spirit dwells there and makes his 
presence known by this noise. They used to make offer- 
ings here whenever there were severe earthquake shocks. 
These shocks are of frequent occurrence, and are some- 
times severe enough to make it difficult even to sit at 

The mountain people on Luenzori are of a low type, 
who at times rebel against the restraining influence of 
civilization and seek to throw off its fetters. In the past 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 125 

they were always liable to be attacked by enemy tribes, 
and they never defended themselves, but simply left their 
villages and fields and took refuge on the higher slopes 
of the mountains, hiding in the forests until their pursuers 
tired and left them. Sometimes, rather than fight, they 
would pay their assailants a ransom in cattle and slaves 
in order to be left in peace. They keep generally only 
a few goats and sheep, and store what little grain they 
grow in granaries, which are merely pits dug at a distance 
from their houses or in the forest. With these stores they 
can manage to exist for some months without coming 
down to the lower parts of the mountain at all. The 
British Government is trying to introduce some improve- 
ments and bring them into line with the more civilized 
tribes around, but it is a difficult task. 

The Christians in the Congo region over the Semliki 
River asked me to visit them, but the detour would have 
taken nearly a month, and though I was anxious to inter- 
view the dwarfs who have taken up their residence in 
that part of the country, I could not spare the time. 
The rains were threatening, and I wished to reach 
Bunyoro and settle there for a few weeks of investigation 
work while the rainy season lasted. Travelling during 
the rains is not pleasant, and there is always the risk of 
getting books and papers spoilt, with, in addition, much 
danger of fever, for mosquitoes are prevalent in every 

When I heard that there was a boat due to call at 
the south end of Lake Albert, and that I should be able 
to get a motor-van on the north-eastern shore to carry 
me to the Government station at Masindi, the capital 
of Bunyoro, I decided to save two or three hundred miles 
of walking by taking the lake route, and therefore set 

126 The Soul of Central Africa. 

out to meet the boat. I had only completed one day's 
journey out from Fort Portal and Kabarole when a 
messenger came to tell me that the boat was not due for 
a few days. I summoned my boys, and after a short 
consultation we decided to turn back to Kabarole and 
wait there. I secured an empty house at the Church 
Missionary Society station for use as an office, and Dr. 
Bond most kindly and generously entertained me while 
I spent a week examining two or three men from the 
cannibal tribes of Luenzori who happened to be at the 

I ,was also able to see something of the activities of 
the Church Missionary Society there. Dr. Bond has a 
well-equipped hospital and does good work among the 
people, but, from the missionary standpoint, he finds the 
task a very uphill one. He was also practically single- 
handed, having no trained nurse to help him. A lady 
came to do what she could, but she was untrained and 
inexperienced and could not relieve him of any responsi- 
bility, while he had always to be at hand in case he 
might be wanted and had to overlook and direct most 
minutely all the nursing. There is a girls' school which 
is deserving of notice, as it is perhaps the most flourishing 
and well-managed of its kind in Uganda, with a system 
and organization worthy of imitation. Work among 
native women is always difficult, and especially so in the 
case of the pastoral tribes, for any bodily exertion will 
cause their fatness to diminish, and, as the well-being of 
a man's herd is closely associated with the stoutness and 
general condition of his wife, anything detrimental to 
her will, by sympathetic magic, militate against the 
good condition of his cows. In this school methods of 
instruction which attract the pastoral women are followed. 




Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 127 

and hand- work, such as they may do without coming 
into conflict with their milk customs and restrictions, is 
being taught. Any disregard of those customs would at 
once raise a storm of objection from members of the 
tribe and be fatal to progress, for the men are full of 
superstitions about their cows and the work their women 
may or may not do. 

After a week spent at Kabarole we set out again for 
Lake Albert. The road was one of the worst we had 
traversed, for here, in the neighbourhood of the lake, is 
one of the sleeping sickness areas, which is practically 
uninhabited. At only one of our camps did we find 
people living near who could supply food, and I found 
to my great comfort that the chief was a man whom I 
had baptized some twenty years before. He kindly 
undertook to see that food was sent to the lake for my 
porters. This was necessary, because after leaving his 
fields no more food could be procured. The next three 
stages were quite uninhabited, though there was game 
of all kinds in abundance. 

As I was riding to the next camp I was accosted by 
a man who ran out of some long grass and muttered 
something I could not catch; after asking him once or 
twice what he said, and faihng to hear his reply, I rode 
on without dismounting. The path had been bad, and 
I had found the journey tiring, for there were sandy 
places where the machine had to be carried, rivulets 
where I had to cross by stones with the machine on my 
shoulder, and once a swamp where the footholds were 
unsafe, and the bicycle on my shoulder made the 
treacherous ground more difficult to negotiate. When, 
therefore, I had found a short run of fairly hard ground, 
I wanted to take advantage of it. About a mile farther 

128 The Soul of Central Africa 

on I came upon a dozen men in the road by a camp 
who greeted me with the question, " Were you not 
attacked ? " I naturally inquired , * ' By whom ? ' ' and 
was informed that a large buffalo had been lying since 
early morning in the path by which I had just come. 
They could not persuade it to move and had been afraid 
to go too near lest it should attack them. There was 
no sign of it when I passed the place ; it must have gone 
into the grass before I approached. I now realized that 
the man who ran after me had been trying to warn me 
not to go forward. 

After leaving the second camp from Kabarole a 
thunderstorm broke upon us, and in a few seconds every- 
one was drenched. There was no place in which we 
could take shelter, so we had to trudge on in the torrential 
downpour. The path became slippery, and walking was 
difficult, doubly so for the men with loads upon their 
heads, and they got so thoroughly chilled that their teeth 
chattered and their hands became numb and stiff. At 
the end of half an hour we welcomed the reappearance 
of the sun with joy, even though it drew the steam from 
the ground in such clouds that we were almost choked. 
We had then a trying escarpment to scramble down, 
but, fortunately for me, my cook was .with me and under- 
took to carry my bicycle. The path was very bad, and 
in places so steep that I had to hold on to the grass and 
shrubs to get down, but the boy managed to carry the 
bicycle on his shoulder all the way without falling. 
According to my aneroid there was a drop of some 2,500 
feet in about a mile and a half, the top of the escarp- 
ment being some 6,500 feet above sea level. When 
nearly half-way down, as we stood for rest on a rock, 
the cook asked me whether I could see some of the 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 129 

advance porters nearing the camp. For some moments 
I could not discern them, but at last, almost directly be- 
neath us, I could distinguish them as moving specks. The 
path took a zigzag course down almost to the foot and 
then sloped in a long gradient into the camping-place, 
where we found water. Here we were troubled at night 
by a most boisterous wind, and though the men came 
periodically to examine my tent-ropes, I had several times 
to get up and secure them. Owing to the heat of the 
plain, the cold air from the mountain rushes down after 
sunset in tremendous gusts, making a tent an unpleasant 

Early on the next morning we began our march over 
the plain to the lake, some fourteen miles distant. As 
there were no defined paths, and the tracks of wild 
animals were quite as well marked as the one we had to 
follow, I had a native guide trotting in front of me as 
I cycled slowly over the rough ground. At one place 
,we saw a large herd of antelope, and I began to count 
them, but on reaching one hundred and finding three 
or four times as many still uncounted, I gave it up and 
betook myself to the bicycle, which had to be ridden 
with caution, for the way ,was strewn with tufts of burnt 
grass, and it sometimes required a little skill as well as 
care to avoid them. 

We went on for a mile or two, when suddenly my 
guide jumped into the grass, poising his spear and point- 
ing to a large wart-hog some yards from him. I dis- 
mounted and asked why he did not throw the spear, 
to which he replied that the animal was coming towards 
him and he had only one weapon. The wart-hog walked 
to within twenty feet of us and stood with its tail held 
stiffly erect, except for a vigorous quivering of the 

130 The Soul of Central Africa 

extreme tip. The animal looked so absurd standing there 
in our path face to face with my guide that I laughed 
and rang my bicycle bell. The unusual sound startled 
him, for he turned, trotted a few. yards away, and 
stopped, looking as though he would like to charge. I 
rang a second time, and he went still farther away to 
consider what the peculiar noise could mean. As he had 
now moved out of our path, I mounted and we continued 
on our way. It was a district full of game, and at one 
or two points I passed wild animals so close that I could 
have struck them with a stick six feet long. In places 
there were traces of elephants, some quite fresh, and a 
good deal of large spoor, as though lions had been follow- 
ing their prey. 

When we reached the lake there was no boat in sight, 
but that did not cause me any anxiety, for I expected 
it to arrive in the morning. About ten o'clock the 
porters came in, and were soon happily engaged in wash- 
ing until they found that a monster crocodile was waiting 
for them in the water a few feet away, whereupon they 
retreated to dry land. I watched the reptile, and found 
that he waited for three hours, hoping the men would 
again venture into the water. Towards dusk I counted 
twelve crocodiles floating over the bay to some rocky 
land on the opposite side. The smallest of them was 
ten feet long, and they went on their homeward journey 
in a long line. My cook's assistant, a lad of twelve, 
assured his companions that he had speared an antelope 
with a pointed stick, which he produced, covered with 
blood, to prove the tale. He wanted the men to go 
hunting with him, but as the sun was setting they re- 
fused, promising to go in the morning. 

The expected boat did not come the next morning. 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 131 

as I had been told she would, and hour after hour of 
the day passed without any sign of her. In the evening 
I sent a runner back to Fort Portal to make inquiries 
as to the delay, and I determined to wait and see if 
she came. The runner would require two days each way, 
but the message could be transmitted from Fort Portal 
by telegraph, and might possibly bring the boat on the 
third day. My men had enough food to last one day, 
and we sent back for more to the nearest gardens and 
fields, half a day's journey away. The men who remained 
began to fish and hunt, but the hunters did not find 
game, and though the fishers were successful, I found 
that none of the men would eat the fish they caught. 
Crocodiles in great numbers were about again, and a 
small one took up his station a few feet from the place 
where the boys went to draw water for cooking ; he was 
only about six feet long and was regarded with amuse- 
ment rather than with fear. He evidently got weary 
of waiting for someone to go into the water, and kept 
raising his head to look round, causing much merriment 
among the men, who greeted him with jeers and stones. 
The day passed without any sign or news of the boat, 
and I feared it would be necessary to return to the top 
of the escarpment and take the road to Bunyoro on 
foot. I was most disinclined to do this, as it meant 
eight marches before we could reach Masindi, the capital 
of Bunyoro. 

Next day, in the early morning, the men went out 
with pointed sticks and soon speared two antelopes. 
They were busily engaged in cutting up the meat, when 
to my intense relief I heard a distant siren and knew 
the boat was somewhere in the neighbourhood. The 
sound was repeated from time to time, but no sign of the 

132 The Soul of Central Africa 

ship could be seen for half an hour, when we saw first 
a little smoke, then the funnel, and later the ship herself 
approaching rapidly. When she cast anchor a. boat was 
sent for us, and I learned that on the previous day a 
mistake had been made and she had passed from the 
Congo side without coming in to call for me. The sound- 
ing of the siren had been intended to attract my atten- 
tion and notify me of her approach, lest I might leave 
the shore or start to take the road to Bunyoro. This 
ship is named Sir Samuel Baker, and is a paddle-steamer, 
drawing only a few inches of water and thus navigating 
shallow parts of the lake with ease. It did not take long 
to have the loads packed and shipped, and we were soon 
ready to sail, leaving the porters to go back to Kabarole 
and get their pay, which I had left for them at the 
Government station. 

The voyage was interesting and the constantly 
changing scenery was refreshing. Each side of the 
narrow lake could be seen, and at times objects on each 
shore were clearly defined. Lake Albert is a depression 
or valley in the mountain range, so that the hills shut 
out all view of the country beyond them. Sometimes 
the foreshore is several miles wide, but in other places 
the mountains slope down to the lake. Butiaba is on a 
fairly level stretch of land at the north-eastern end of 
the lake. It is the port for Masindi, where the Govern- 
ment station is situated, and the spot was chosen for 
its nearness to the water's edge. The heat, however, is 
found very trying, and the idea of moving the settlement 
up the escarpment, so as to provide a healthier dwelling- 
place for the marine staff, has been seriously considered. 
The voyage took some nine hours or a little more, and 
we had to enter the port at Butiaba after dark. There 



Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 133 

are nQ lights, but a large grass fire is lit on the beach 
to guide the steersman into the harbour when the ship 
comes in after darkness has fallen. I had to spend the 
night on the boat, but I was quite comfortable, and my 
boys slept soundly, in spite of the fact that they were 
short of food, as we had failed to get enough for them to 
bring any on board. 

In the early morning we disembarked and started 
to climb the escarpment towards the Belgian transport 
station on the summit, between which and Masindi there 
is a service of motor lorries. A good road has been 
engineered down the escarpment for motor lorries to 
reach the port, as this is the nearest way for Belgian 
products to reach or leave the Congo. Machinery and 
tools for the copper mines entering the country, as well 
as exports on their journey to the east coast of Africa, 
pass along this road. It took some time to make arrange- 
ments for getting my luggage up, for it had to be 
carried as no lorry was available. Porters were scarce, and 
in the end some of the cases had to be left behind. I 
was, however, cheered by the discovery that a motor 
lorry was due to leave at noon, and I would be able to 
reach Masindi that day. The Government lorry had left 
the day before, but it had been arranged that the Belgian 
one should wait for me. By the time I had made all 
my inquiries and arrangements at the lake it was past 
ten o'clock, and I had a hot walk up the escarpment to 
the Belgian station. 

On my arrival I learned that the Government lorry 
had broken down the night before when going up a 
steep hill ; the driving chain had given way and the vehicle 
had run backwards down the side of a bank, but was 
luckily stopped by a tree, which saved the occupants from 

134 The Soul of Central Africa 

a nasty accident. She had to be hauled out and repaired 
before she could go on, so a Belgian car went to her 
assistance. We followed, and reached the spot of the 
accident just as the lorry was pulled safely to the road 
again. When I saw the place I could hardly believe 
that the lorry had run 14 feet down the steep bank 
without overturning. There were a number of natives 
in it af the time, but no one was hurt. 

I was agreeably surprised to find that the road from 
Lake Albert to Masindi, and from there to Masindi Port, 
on Lake Kioga, a distance of some 68 miles, was 
metalled, forming a good transport road over the whole 
distance. It seemed quite strange to pass a steam-roller 
at work on the road in the interior of Africa, and to find 
good bridges over the streams and depressions. The 
distance from Lake Albert to Masindi is 33 miles, and 
the scenery all along the route was of interest, for wild 
country would suddenly be broken by a few fields, cul- 
tivated by the natives, and huts .with children playing 
about them. It is not, however, comparable for beauty 
with the mountain scenery of Ankole and Kigezi, and 
the soil did not seem to me as good as that of Ankole 
for coffee-growing. Still, we passed two or three culti- 
vated stretches, sometimes over a mile long, with coffee 
and cotton-fields, where well-built houses with flower- 
gardens, standing in plantations of trees, indicated the 
presence of the British settler. 

A little before four o'clock we reached a station of 
the Church Missionary Society, and on alighting from 
the lorry I was greeted by an old friend, the Rev. H. 
Dillistone, who was expecting me. He led me to a lawn 
under the trees, where Mrs. Dillistone dispensed tea and 
some of the luxuries of station life, which, needless to 

Toro and the Journey to Bunyoro 135 

say, were thoroughly appreciated. We spent the evening 
chatting over old times, for I had known both these 
friends in former years, when I was in Africa as a mis- 
sionary. Thanks to their kindness and generosity, I was 
their guest here for some three months while I gathered 
information about the Banyoro. This proved to be 
scientifically the most profitable piece of work I accom- 
plished, though when I reached Bunyoro I had not the 
slightest idea of what was awaiting me, and fully ex- 
pected to be able to finish my task there and pass on to 
some other place in two or three weeks' time. 




Sir Samuel Baker and King Kabarega — Kabarega and the British — 
Capture of Kabarega — Kings of Bunyoro — Former Greatness — 
Origin and Influence of the Middle Class — The King's Herds— > 
Sacred Cows — Herald, Milkmen, and Milkmaids — Milking the 
Sacred Cows — The King's Meals — The King's Wives. 

MY first task at Masindi was the inevitable unpack- 
ing of goods and sorting of papers ; the contents 
of the boxes which had been dropped in the 
rivers as we came through Toro had also to be carefully 
examined. When that had been done I was ready to 
pay my visit to the King of Bunyoro and arrange, as 
I had done at Mbarara, for men to come and give me 
the information I wanted. For my purpose it was quite 
profitless to talk to men who were versed in modern 
civilization and politics, so I made arrangements for three 
old and two young men, all of whom, I was assured, 
knew more of the past than of to-day, to come and tell me 
about their customs. At first they were most unwilling to 
tell me anything, and refused altogether to talk about 
their sacred rites, so that I began to fear I should have 
to go away having learned little or nothing. It was 
not until they had been, by the king's intervention and 
assistance, aroused to take some interest in what I was 
doing that a more communicative disposition appeared 
and they began to show signs of friendliness and con- 
fidence. When they found that they were dealing with 


Bunyoro 137 

a man jvho was acquainted with many customs and beliefs 
similar to their own, they became quite wiUing to divulge 
their religious secrets, and the investigation at once be- 
came not only interesting and easy, but most valuable. 

One of these men had been the messenger of a 
former king, Kabarega, and had carried messages between 
his master and Sir Samuel Baker, both on the latter's 
first visit and later on when he came again and stayed 
for some time. I found I was on the spot where Baker 
and Lady Baker had made their camp in King Kabarega 's 
day. From this man, Paul, I heard, from the Banyoro 
point of view, the story of the trouble which had led 
Baker to fight the Banyoro and necessitated his leaving 
the country in a hurry. It appears that some beer had 
been sent to Baker for his troops, and that they had 
become excessively drunk. Concluding that the beer 
had been " doctored," Baker, in order to have the matter 
explained, sent for the chief who was responsible. He, 
however, refused to obey the request, and when Baker 
sent another messenger, this time accompanied by a 
soldier, the messenger was speared down. The soldier, 
fearing he also would be attacked, fired upon the assailant 
and killed him, whereupon the people at once rushed to 
arms. Baker, seeing that he might easily be overpowered 
and killed, brought out a maxim gun, and when the 
excited natives rushed up towards the camp he fired on 
them and quickly put them to flight. Then, with a party 
of soldiers, he went to see the king and obtain an explana- 
tion. Kabarega, however, fearing for his own safety, 
left the royal enclosure and took up a position on a hill 
near. Baker, completely puzzled by the situation, set 
fire to the royal enclosure, returned to his camp, packed 
his goods, and beat a hasty retreat over the Nile, feeling 

138 The Soul of Central Africa 

it would be unsafe to stay longer in a country so hostile. 
The natives now look on the whole affair as a mistake 
and a misunderstanding, but its effect on King Kabarega 
was serious, for from that time he regarded all Europeans 
with deep suspicion, and was ever after hostile to 
them and objected to the intrusion of foreigners into 
his country. Emin Pasha was on friendly terms with 
him, but some of the other men who attempted to pass 
through were made prisoners, and one — I think it was 
Captain Casati, one of Gordon's officers — was detained 
for some months, and only escaped by entering into 
blood-brothership with a chief, who, on being sent to 
drown him in Lake Albert, put him instead into a canoe 
and sent him away by night, concealing his escape from 
the king, who thought the order had been carried out 
and the man drowned. 

In later years, when Mwanga, King of Uganda, 
invited the British to come into his country, Kabarega 
sent to advise him not to allow them to remain, and the 
already existing enmity between the two peoples was 
greatly intensified by Mwanga 's refusal to take this 
advice. In after years Kabarega sent frequent raiding 
parties into Buganda, and these became so irritating that 
the British dispatched several expeditions against him. 
For some time they did not succeed in capturing him, but 
they made him a homeless wanderer in his own country, 
and his people were reduced to dire poverty, for the 
tillers of the soil were prevented, by the constant dis- 
turbances, from cultivating their land. 

This state of warfare went on for several years until 
at last, after one of the Uganda risings — when some of 
the rebel Baganda, with the Sudanese troops who had 
joined them, fled into the remote parts of Bunyoro and 

Bunyoro 139 

the Teso country — a large expedition of Indian and 
native troops, under British ofl&cers, was organized 
against Kabarega. After some months of indecisive 
guerilla warfare, during which the British never succeeded 
in getting into touch with the fugitive king, some of his 
men, weary of the situation and longing for peace, turned 
traitors and revealed his hiding-place. A forced march 
during the night brought the troops upon the king, who 
was accompanied by Mwanga, King of Uganda, also at 
this time a fugitive, having fled with the rebels. Seeing 
that there was no possibility of escape, Kabarega, with 
a few of his more valiant men and some of his sons, 
made a stand. The king was armed with a rifle, and 
fought bravely until his arm was broken by a bullet and 
he could no longer hold his weapon. He was taken 
prisoner, and along with him was captured the son who 
is the present king of Bunyoro. 

The wounded arm had to be amputated, though 
Kabarega resisted this, preferring to die at once. After 
the arm was taken off and he was left alone with his 
son, he insisted that the latter should tear off the 
bandages and let him bleed to death. For a time the 
son refused, but the paternal authority was too strong, 
and in the end he obeyed, and had started the flow of 
blood when the guard at the door, realizing that some- 
thing unusual was going on, looked in and found the 
king bleeding profusely. He promptly summoned the 
doctor, who was able to tie the arteries and stop the 
haemorrhage. The father and son were then separated, 
and a soldier kept watch in Kabarega 's room lest he 
might again attempt to tear off his bandages. When 
the arm was healed the king was taken, with Mwanga, 
who was also captured, to Kampala, and both kings were 

140 The Soul of Central Africa 

shipped off to the Seychelles. Mwanga died there some 
years ago, but Kabarega is still ajive. He is now an 
old man, and has been converted to Christianity. 

The kings of Bunyoro have always been noted for 
their bravery, which is not surprising when we take into 
account the way in which they fought their way to the 
throne. Later on it will be necessary to give a more 
detailed description of the method of appointing a new 
king, but a few words on the subject will not be out of 
place here. When a king died, the princes and their 
followers rushed to arms, and the new king was the man 
who succeeded in killing all rivals to the throne. The 
fight for the crown was open to any prince who could 
raise an army, but many princes preferred not to take 
part, and the struggle was usually left to three or perhaps 
four competitors. Sometimes the country remained six 
months or even a year in this state of warfare while the 
three or four factions pitted against each other struggled 
for victory. The victor and only survivor of such a con- 
flict must be a brave man, for in this kind of primitive 
warfare the victory would naturally fall to the stronger 
man and better leader, who thus became king. Kabarega 
was the last of these warrior kings, the present king 
having been elected by the British after trial had been 
made of another man who proved to be but a weak and 
incompetent youth. 

The present king may have his faults, but he has a 
strong personality, with the appearance and courteous 
manners of a king, and he possesses the high intelligence 
of the royal family of Bunyoro, who are in this respect 
far superior to the rest of the people. In addition he 
has the enviable and, for a good king, essential gift of 
knowing how to deal with men. I spent many hours in 

Bunyoro 141 

his society, questioning him about old customs and also 
learning much from him about the present condition of 
his country, and I came to have a great respect for him. 
He needs a friend to help him in overcoming a tendency 
towards excessive indulgence in native beer, but he is 
.well worth helping. 

It is now, however, time to say something about this 
country of Bunyoro, as it is now generally called, though 
the real name is Katara and the people should be called 
Bahatara. Bunyoro was a name given to it in derision 
by the Baganda, and means " the country of freed 
men," while Banyoro means " freed men," though it 
was later used to denote the chiefs or ruling class, and 
so became the accepted name of the people. 

In the early days, when Speke, Grant and Baker 
visited this country, it was the most powerful native 
kingdom in the lake region of Central Africa, and the 
kings, both in authority and personal prowess, were 
superior to all the neighbouring monarchs. When at 
this later date we survey their former condition, it seems 
strange that, for no reason which can now be traced, 
they were unable to prevent the Baganda from over- 
powering them, and for several years before the British 
finally came in to crush them they were being pushed 
back from district after district. Now they are deprived 
of a great part of their old kingdom, for many of the 
districts which once owned their sway have been handed 
over by the British to other peoples. 

At one time the whole of Busoga was ruled by the 
king of Bunyoro, and many of the Nilotic tribes owned 
his suzerainty, while in the south the tribes of southern 
Buganda to the borders of the Kiziba country were 
under him. It was from Bunyoro that all the iron came 

142 The Soul of Central Africa 

which supplied the countries to the south and east, and 
for many years the Banyoro smiths were superior to all 
others. In addition to the iron, the salt districts, both 
in Bunyoro and in Toro, which supplied all the tribes 
for two or three hundred miles around, belonged to the 
King of Bunyoro. These essential commodities were 
important factors in their greatness, for they filtered 
through to other tribes as barter goods, passing down 
south and east until they reached the countries supplied 
with salt and iron from the coast. 

In other respects the pastoral people of the country 
did not show any marked superiority over the Hamitic 
pastoral tribes of the surrounding countries, while the 
agricultural people — who, as in Ankole, are a different 
race, evidently the conquered aboriginal inhabitants of 
the land — were probably inferior to their neighbours, 
with the exception, perhaps, of the serfs in Ankole, who 
were a miserably poor agricultural people. 

The greatest difference between the people of Bunyoro 
and the neighbouring tribes is the existence of a middle 
class, composed of people who have risen from the 
agricultural and artisan class, having been freed from 
serfdom by some king and raised to the rank of *' freed 
men," or Banyoro, for it is from the title given to these 
that the country takes its present name. When a man 
of the lower class distinguished himself in any way the 
king, as a reward, would announce, " You are no longer 
of the slaves, but of the free men," and would make him 
a chief. The man was then at liberty to marry a woman 
from the pastoral tribe, and could easily find a herdsman's 
daughter willing to be his wife. The herdsmen were the 
lower ranks of the pastoral people, and could never hope 
to possess wealth, counting themselves fortunate if they 

Bunyoro 143 

possessed cows enough to buy and feed a wife. The 
daughter of one of those, though prevented by class 
feeUng from marrying a common serf, would be wilhng 
to marry this newly created chief, who might be wealthy, 
rather than spend the rest of her life in poverty with a 
herdsman of her own class. From such unions has sprung 
a class of people who are inferior to those of pure pastoral 
descent, but superior to the agricultural folk. People of 
the lower class will kneel to a man of the middle class ; 
even the parents of a man who has been raised to this 
rank will kneel to him and greet him as a superior. The 
existence of this middle class has led to the introduction 
of mixed blood among the pastoral people, and thus to 
the disappearance of the pure type we find in Ankole, 
for men who would never marry women of the agricul- 
tural peoples have taken wives from this middle class, 
and the resulting difference in type between their 
descendants and the pure pastoral people is often quite 

Through the influence of the middle class also, the old 
stringent regulations of the milk diet are now to a large 
extent neglected and disregarded. The middle class 
possessed large herds of cows, and lived to a great extent 
upon milk, but not entirely so as did the purely pastoral 
people; their influence therefore tended to make the 
pastoral people more lax in the observance of their milk 
customs. The regulations which were until recently care- 
fully followed by the kings and the pastoral families of 
unmixed blood show what was the custom of the whole 
tribe in earlier times. 

The king used to be allowed to eat meat only once 
a day, when, as a religious offering rather than as a meal, 
he was given a few pieces of sacred meat. With the 

144 The Soul of Central Africa 

exception of this sacramental meal, the food of the king 
,was milk and milk alone, and it had to come only from 
cows specially set apart for the purpose. The king was 
held to be sacred, and therefore might not drink milk 
from cows which supplied ordinary mortals. There was 
a sacred herd, numbering hundreds of animals, from 
which nine cows at a time were selected for the daily 
use of the king. These cows were chosen for their beauty 
and good health, and were taken to a district where they 
might be kept apart from other herds, especially from 
the bulls of other herds. Besides these sacred cows, the 
king possessed large numbers of cattle which were divided 
into herds according to their colour, each colour having 
a special name; striped cows, cows of one colour, even 
cows with different spots, had each their own name and 
were kept in their own herds. 

Though all the royal herd was carefully guarded 
against contamination from other animals, the chief of 
the royal herdsmen paid special attention to the nine 
sacred cows. These were herded in the vicinity of the 
royal residence, and had a kraal near. They were never 
permitted to come through the main entrance to the 
royal enclosure, but had their own special gate leading into 
the court adjoining one of a row of sacred huts through 
which the king passed daily to herd his cows, and which 
were forbidden ground to the ordinary person. The 
herald of the cows came first, and the animals followed 
him through two of the huts into the royal presence, 
where they stood before the throne-room to be milked. 

Men were carefully chosen and set apart as herdsmen 
and milkmen, and the herald had to be a member of a 
particular clan. The milkmaids were chosen by the king 
from among his wives. They were young women who 

Bunyoro 145 

had no children, and they could only serve the king when 
in perfect health. The milkmen and milkmaids ,were 
purified for the performance of their duties, and had to 
observe certain restrictions during the time they were in 
office. The men took leave of all relatives and friends 
for their term of duty, which lasted four days, for during 
that time they were not allowed to hold communication 
with anyone but the chief of the kraal; especially must 
they keep themselves apart from women, even looking 
away if a woman approached, and refusing to answer if 
one addressed them. For two days they were kept in 
seclusion and purified, and on the third morning they 
entered on their duties, relieving the two men who had 
been on duty during the previous two days. The special 
duty of one of the men was to brush any dust or dirt 
from the cow's udder, and then to hold its tail lest it 
should whisk any dust into the milk. The other man 
milked the cow and returned the milk-pot to the milk- 
maid who was responsible for carrying it to the dairy. 
One of the milkmaids carried a large horn of water, to 
cleanse the hands of the man who milked, and the brush 
for brushing the cow's udder, while the other maid 
carried the milk-pot, placed it in the lap of the milkman 
when he was ready to milk, and took it away to the 
dairy when full. Both men and maids had their faces, 
chests and arms covered with white clay while they 
performed their duties. 

The person of the boy-caller or herald was sacrosanct, 
and he was looked upon as so closely connected with the 
king that he had to be careful how he acted during his 
years of office. He was chosen when about nine or ten 
years old, and continued in office until he reached the 
age of puberty, when he was given a .wife by the king 


146 The Soul of Central Africa 

and another herald was appointed. Should he fall sick 
during his period of office and his condition be considered 
serious, the chief medicine-man had him strangled, for 
his illness was a danger to the king. Again, he was not 
permitted to do anything that might hurt him or cause 
him to lose blood, for a scratch or a cut endangered the 
health of the king ; while to strike the boy was equivalent 
to striking the king, and was therefore a capital offence. 

Each day this lad went, about four o'clock in the 
afternoon, to lead the sacred cows from their pasture. 
The cows were brought by the herdsman to some place 
from which the herald could lead them to the royal 
enclosure without walking in grass where hidden thorns 
might scratch him. They were then passed over to the 
herald, who at once began his special cry and walked 
in front of them, while some of his companions followed 
them. At the sound of the herald's cry people fled out 
of the ,way of the sacred herd and knelt in the grass or 
in side roads until they had passed. When the cows 
entered the royal enclosure through their special gate 
they stood near the throne room, in which the king sat 
to watch the milking process. 

A bundle of freshly cut grass was spread on the 
ground to form a carpet, and upon this one of the cows 
stood while the herald brought her calf and allowed it 
to suck until the milk flowed freely, when he pulled it 
away and held it before the dam to keep her quiet while 
she was being milked. The first milkman came forward 
and, taking the brush from the milkmaid, rubbed the 
cow's udder free from dust or other unclean matter. 
The brush was handed back to the milkmaid, who then 
poured some water from her horn over the hands of the 
second man. The first milkman took his place behind 

Bunyoro 147 

the cow and held her tail, so that she should not whisk 
any dust into the milk. When the milker had had his 
hands washed, he squatted by the side of the cow, and 
the second milkmaid placed the pot in his lap ; he might 
not touch it or anything else after his hands had been 
cleansed. The man took from the cow as much milk 
as he considered she could give without harming the 
calf ; when he had finished he raised his hands, the milk- 
maid lifted and took away the pot, the cow was led away, 
and the next was brought. Two of the cows were thus 
milked, and then the milk was carried into the dairy for 
the king to drink. The other seven cows had to wait 
to be milked until the king had finished his meal. Some 
of the milk from the other cows was used for making 
butter to anoint the king, and some the king gave to his 
favourite wives when they visited him in the evening. 

When the milk had been carried into the dairy, the 
dairymaid set it ready for use and prepared the stool 
on which the king sat. She also was purified and had 
her hands, face and chest covered with white clay. After 
preparing all things for the meal, she entered the throne- 
room by a side door, knelt by the throne and said, " The 
milk has come, sire," and retired to await the coming 
of the king. When he rose from the throne, the guard 
called in a loud voice, " The king has gone to drink 
milk," whereupon all the people within the royal 
enclosure knelt down, covered their faces, and kept 
silence. No one might make the sUghtest sound, for a 
cough or even a clearing of the throat would bring down 
the royal wrath upon him, and in all probability the 
offender would promptly be put to death for thus 
endangering the royal life. 

In the dairy no one but the dairymaid was allowed 

148 The Soul of Central Africa 

to be present during the meal. She carried the royal 
milk-pot, a beautifully-made vessel set in a shallow stand, 
round the edge of which was arranged a white fibre made 
from the fronds and pith of the leaves of the palm-tree, 
which stood up in a thick bushy circle round the pot. 
On the side of this stand was a holder into which fitted 
a wooden handle holding a sponge; this the milkmaid 
handed to the king, who wiped his lips with the sponge 
and returned it to her. She next handed to him a pot 
of milk, taking oflP as she did so a lid of fine wicker-work 
which she held as a screen before her eyes, that she 
might not commit the sacrilege of beholding the king 
drink. Then from the floor where she knelt she took 
a fly-whisk, which she waved gently to keep any flies 
and insects from settling upon him. When the king 
had finished his meal he tapped the pot to attract the 
milkmaid's attention, handed it to her, rose without a 
word, and returned to the throne-room. The guard 
announced his return to the kneeling people, who might 
then rise and come to address to him their petitions or 
greetings. The other cows were then milked, and the 
milk was carried to the dairy. 

It was at this point during the evening milking that 
princesses were wont to pay their visits to the king. 
They sat near the throne, and the king might, if he so 
desired, present to them for their refreshment some of 
the milk from the royal herd. Towards sunset the king 
walked out in his enclosure and visited some of his wives, 
or perhaps some of his cowmen came to give accounts 
of the herds over which they had charge. This business 
often lasted until eight or nine o'clock, and then the king 
might order one of his wives to bring a pot of beer for 
the men, and they would entertain him for a time by 


The one on the left is said to be over 100 years old 


Bunyoro 149 

singing songs, telling stories, or by an exhibition of 
jumping, dancing or wrestling. 

Each afternoon, before the cows came in for the 
evening milking, the king had a sacred meal of beef. 
For this the flesh of a yearling bull from the royal herd 
had to be used, and the meat was strictly reserved for 
the king's use or disposal. The cook lived near the royal 
enclosure, but outside, for no cooking might be done 
inside. The chief whose charge it ,was to remind the 
king of his duties told him when the time for his meal 
had come. The king rose from the throne, and, taking 
a drumstick, he gave one beat on each of nine drums 
which were hung round the throne-room; this sound 
warned the people that the time of silence was at hand, 
and also told the cook that the king was waiting for 
him. The cook might not pass through the main gate- 
,way with the king's food, but had to walk round the 
royal enclosure and enter by the gate of the sacred cows. 
When he reached the throne he knelt down, and, taking 
the pot of meat from his servant, dismissed him and 
turned to wait upon the king. He had to feed the king, 
who was not permitted to touch the food. With a two- 
pronged fork the cook took a piece of the meat and 
placed it in the king's mouth ; this was done four times, 
and if at any point the cook allowed the fork to touch 
the king's teeth he was put to death on the spot. When 
the meal was over, a second basket of food was brought 
to the king, and he ordered it to be distributed among 
his pages, who were summoned to the courtyard outside 
the throne-room for the purpose. 

The king was not supposed to eat any other meat, 
the rest of his food being milk alone, and this ceremonial 
meat-eating was regarded, not as a meal, but as a sacrifice 

150 The Soul of Central Africa 

to bring blessing on all the food of the land. In these 
later days the kings have broken away from the old 
custom, and now eat a meal of vegetable food and meat. 
Still, no cooking of food is even now permitted within 
the royal enclosure; it has to be done outside in the 
cook's house, and until within the past few years the 
food was carried secretly into a specially built house and 
eaten in secret. Many dishes of all kinds were prepared 
to tempt the royal appetite, and were carried to this 
house, and the king would steal away from the court for 
his meal. Having chosen the dishes of which he would 
partake, he was quickly served, ate standing, drank some 
beer, and then returned to his court as though he had 
been engaged in some quite legitimate occupation. 

In the olden days, if any meat remained over from 
the sacred meal, it was eaten by someone appointed by 
the king; but only a small amount from the sacred 
animal was cooked, and the rest of the meat was dried 
and used as it was required. When another animal was 
killed, any raw meat remaining from the last was given, 
by the king's order, to one of the herdsmen. 

The king kept a large harem, because he could 
command any woman in the land. The queen must, 
however, be one of his half-sisters, of whom he could 
have as many as he wished in his harem. Princesses 
were forbidden to marry any but princes, and they 
.were themselves careful to keep apart from the common 
people. Other girls were brought to the king by his 
regular scouts, for he kept a body of women for this 
special purpose. These were constantly going about the 
country to see the girls as they grew up and reached a 
marriageable age. Mothers kept their daughters care- 
fully shut up— in fact, practically prisoners— for months 

. (11 



Bunyoro 151 

to prepare them for marriage, but these scouts of the 
king would manage to hear of any girl who was con- 
sidered good-looking, and would go to examine her for 
themselves. If they considered her worthy of the king, 
they gave her a necklet of beads, which marked her 
henceforward as the king's property. It might be that 
she was already betrothed and that the bridegroom was 
waiting for his wife, but he could not claim her, though 
he might appeal to the chief of his district, who would 
lay the case before the king, and the man would be 
granted compensation in kind. 

The marriage of a daughter to the king was by no 
means an unmixed blessing, and sometimes parents would 
resort to every possible device to keep the women scouts 
away. To begin with, it was an expensive honour. 
Though the parents received a gift of cows from the 
king, they had to accompany their daughter to the royal 
enclosure and wait there sometimes for ten days or even 
more, leaving their own kraal, family, and cattle until 
the king pleased to hand over to them the gift and 
allow them to go. They had, moreover, to supply their 
daughter with a sufficient number of cows for her food 
and also with milk-pots and clothing, and her outfit had 
to come up to a certain standard, for it was examined 
by a woman who reported to the king before the girl 
was brought into his presence. Any failure in this 
respect brought the king's wrath on the parents, and 
they were even liable to death for such a dereliction of 
duty. In addition, there was always the risk that their 
daughter might offend the king and bring them into 
disfavour and even danger, for if the girl's offence was 
serious the king might order the parents to be put to 
death along with the disgraced wife. 

152 The Soul of Central Africa 

The chosen girl might not be summoned to the king 
for some time after the visit of the scouts, and when the 
call came the special feeding and anointing which were 
necessary took a few weeks. On admission to the royal 
enclosure she was introduced by the woman who had 
found her, and was placed in a waiting-room off the 
throne-room, where she had to remain for twelve hours, 
closely watched by a woman guard. Then she was 
handed over to the care of one of the king's wives, and 
it might be months before she was finally called into the 
king's presence. Before her marriage visit to the king 
she had to undergo further purification and anointing 
for about a month. After marriage the new wife was 
given a house of her own in the royal enclosure. As a 
rule she would not enter the presence of the king again ; 
only the possession of some special gift or charm which 
attracted the king would secure her a second visit. Few; 
royal wives had more than one child, and many never 
became mothers. 

The wives were, on the whole, a happy party. In 
accordance with the custom of the country they were 
not permitted to do any work, and had nothing to do 
but amuse themselves and pass the time as pleasantly as 
they could. They were not allowed to go outside the 
royal enclosure, except by permission and with a suitable 
escort, but inside, though they might not hold communi- 
cation with any men except their own relatives, they had 
plenty of company among themselves. 


BUNYORO — (continued) 

The King as Priest — Rain-making — The Chief Medicine-man — Salt 
and the Salt-works — Plantain Fibre — Smelting — The Smiths — 
Pottery — Carpentry — Basketry — Bark-cloth. 

AMONG a pastoral people like the upper classes 
of the Banyoro all social customs have their origin 
^ and centre in the cattle. This was more apparent 
some time ago than it is now, for in earUer days the 
pastoral class were a people apart; the gulf which 
separated them from the lower orders, that is, the agri- 
cultural people, was very wide, for the latter were then 
much more degraded, and there was no intermediate 
class. The influence of Christianity and Western civiliza- 
tion tends to bring the classes closer together, and the 
formation of a middle class, to which I have already 
referred, has bridged the gulf of separation and led to 
much intermingling in marriage. 

In every branch of social Hfe the king was the head 
and leader, and, in his character of priest, the people 
placed complete reliance upon his power as the mediator 
between themselves and the supernatural powers. At one 
time the king, in this capacity, concerned himself with 
the pastoral people alone, but when the middle class began 
to be a recognized body with considerable power, it was 
found necessary for him to pay attention to their needs 
and requirements also, and he had to respond to their 


154 The Soul of Central Africa 

requests for assistance, especially in the matter of the 
regulation of the weather. 

For this important purpose the first authority to be 
approached was a body of medicine-men, who were the 
officially appointed rain-makers, and whose duty it was 
to regulate the weather for the benefit of the country. 
These were scattered over the kingdom so that they might 
attend to the particular needs of the different localities, 
and each of them had many assistants. When the 
country needed a change of weather the people would 
apply to the rain-maker for their district, who, on receipt 
of a suitable gift, .would promise the fulfilment of their 
desire. Should he fail and matters become serious through 
flood or drought, the people carried their complaint and 
request to a higher authority, and appealed to the king. 

These rain-makers are still to be found in many parts 
of the country, doing their work as of yore, though they 
are not now held in such universal honour, and are forced 
to carry on their office in secret, for the Government 
are determined to put an end to their practices, and are 
attempting to do so by vigorous methods of repression. 
This policy is to be regretted, though careful supervision 
should be exercised to keep these men from exploiting 
the superstitious feelings of the natives. Rain-making 
ought to be regarded in the same light as any other 
religious belief, true or false, and should be left to stand 
or fall on its own merits when considered and tested by 
the light of reason. Christianity will expose its false 
pretensions and make an end of it much more quickly 
unaided by the strong arm of the law. As it is, the 
ceremonies are still widely practised, though in secret, 
and the power of the rain-makers over the impressionable 
minds of the people is only increased by the persecution 

Bunyoro 155 

to which they are subjected. The men are imprisoned 
and their outfits confiscated, but this does not convince 
them of wrong-doing, and on their release they resume 
their work with renewed vigour. A much more eflFective 
method would be to punish them only when they ex- 
torted payment from the people, whether in money or 
in kind, for their assistance. If the emoluments of their 
craft were thus denied them, and it was made clear that 
they must practise it simply and solely from the desire 
to benefit their fellow-men and without thought of 
reward, the custom would die a natural death and be 
got rid of much more rapidly and eflPectively than by the 
present system. 

I was granted the privilege of visiting one of the 
sacred places where the rain-making ceremonies are 
carried on, but I had first to promise not to reveal the 
whereabouts of the place or the names of the rain-makers. 
The shrine was in the heart of a forest, through which a 
path was cleared, but even then I had to leave my bicycle 
two miles away, as it was impossible to ride. Far in the 
forest we came upon a beautifully shaded glade, in which 
the trees, though they met overhead, were not so dense 
as in the surrounding forest. The objects which first 
attracted the attention were two depressions, which looked 
like pits made by artificial means, but which the people 
believe to be supernatural in origin and the work of 
the god of rain himself ; they were about five or six feet 
deep and four feet in diameter. At the back of one of 
them was a wall composed of fetishes, which were long 
horns of cows and antelopes tipped with iron to stick 
in the ground. In front of these were other fetishes, . 
and, standing upon a leopard skin, there was a stool on 
which rested the chief fetish, a large decorated buffalo 

156 The Soul of Central Africa 

horn. One or two iron spears, stuck in the ground beside 
the upright horns, completed what might be termed the 
altar, and the ground around was carpeted and the sides 
of the pit were covered with newly cut scented grass. On 
one side, in a place among the trees like a side-chapel, 
there were a number of pots, many of which were broken, 
but the broken pieces were left jvhere they had fallen 
.when the pot was last used. 

In due time the ceremony commenced, and I saw 
most of what is done upon these occasions. The pits are 
for sacrificial purposes, and, when offerings of animals are 
made, the rain-maker, who is also the priest of the god, 
slays the victim over one of them and allows the blood 
to flow into it. The fetishes are smeared with some of 
the blood, and the blessing of the god of rain, ,who is 
present in the chief fetish on the stool, is implored. After 
the sacrifice one of the assistants is sent to a sacred well 
in the vicinity to draw a pot of water, which is carried 
before the altar and presented to the god before being 
emptied into some of the pots in the side-chapel. If 
rain is required the water is left in these pots as a re- 
minder to the god, and the priest, presenting his request, 
draws the god's attention to them. This action denotes 
a kind of sympathetic magic — like producing like. If 
rain does not follow in the next few days the sacrifice 
has to be repeated. 

When rain refuses to come and the crops all over 
the country threaten to fail, the people appeal to the king 
for help against the rain-makers, who have taken their 
offerings and done nothing in return. It never occurs 
to them to think that the men may be incapable of doing 
what they require ; for some reason they are disinclined 
to work and must be made to fulfil their engagement. 



Bunyoro 157 

The king accordingly sends for all the rain-makers and 
asks their reason for not bringing the necessary rain. 
He then commands them to do so without delay. If a 
day or two passes and there is still no rain, the men are 
brought to the king and placed in the burning sun in the 
courtyard before the throne-room. The king's cook pre- 
pares a special dish, composed of the liver of a sheep or 
a cow cooked in butter, with as much salt as can be got 
into it. This the unhappy rain-makers have to eat as 
they sit in the sun, and there they remain with the per- 
spiration streaming from them and their throats parched 
with thirst. No mercy is shown. When they beg for 
water the only reply is : '' Bring rain and quench your 
thirst." Even should one faint from thirst he does not 
escape. They may obtain a little respite by promising 
to go and make rain, but nothing except the coming of 
the rain will end their diiSiculties. 

When, on the other hand, rain has fallen in sufficient 
quantities or has been too abundant, the rain-maker is 
called on again, this time to bring sunshine and fair 
weather. Again he resorts to all manner of devices to 
prove to the people that he is doing what is required 
and also to obtain further gifts from them. He goes 
to the forest shrine and makes an offering of an animal 
or a fowl to the god, praying that, in return, the rain 
may cease. All the pots of water are overturned, and 
the attention of the rain god is carefully drawn to the 
fact. Lack of success will again lead to a general appeal 
to the king, who will summon the whole company of rain- 
makers and issue his command that the rain be stopped. 
If this has no effect the men are again brought before 
him, and each is presented with a large pot of rain-water 
caught from the roof of one of the huts. The king com- 

158 The Soul of Central Africa 

mands them to drink until the pots are empty, and though 
they are often made sick by the amount they have to 
drink — no mercy is shown unless the rain stops. 

The rain-makers have many devices wherewith to play 
upon the imaginations of the people in order to keep 
them from appealing to the king, and it is not often 
that they suffer punishment for failure to satisfy their 
clients. When the confidence of the people is so un- 
shakable it is little wonder that these men sometimes take 
advantage of them, and, if they dare to refuse any demand 
for an animal or other gift, threaten them with the loss 
of crops from drought or from wind and rain. Those 
of the rain-makers whom I was able to interview were, 
on the whole, reticent, but I succeeded in securing a 
certain amount of information from one and was able to 
persuade others to confirm it. 

Among the different classes of medicine-men the 
most important is he whose duty it is to prescribe both 
for people and cattle. If he is sent for to cure a herd 
of cows in which disease has broken out, the owner of 
the kraal must be prepared to pay him a handsome fee 
in cows and also to provide for him a good house with 
abundance of food. He may be called upon on other 
occasions than outbreaks of disease, for here, as in 
Ankole, there is the strange belief that when lightning 
strikes and kills any cows, the rest of the herd may not 
be removed from that place until the medicine-man has 
released them by making an offering to the god of 
thunder. This may detain the herd in some place far 
from the kraal all day and all night; the calves, which 
are in the kraal, are thus left during the night without 
a meal, and the cows are not milked until the medicine- 
man has been able to make his offering of a cow and 




Bunyoro 159 

can assure the herdsman that the wrath of the god is 

The general knowledge possessed by these men of the 
methods of treating the cows in sickness and of keeping 
them in health is much greater than most people imagine. 
They are successful in treating all kinds of diseases with 
which they are famiUar, but rinderpest — which was 
unknown until an epidemic broke out thirty years ago 
— has so far baffled their skill. Many diseases they 
ascribe to magic, and perform special ceremonies to 
discover and defeat it, but after the magic has been 
destroyed the treatment is usually rational. 

The giving of salt to the cows is considered essential 
to their health, and the cows themselves seem to enjoy 
the day on which the salt is administered. The owner 
of the cows has to be careful not to drink milk from 
any cow which on that day has eaten salt; he believes 
that this will be in some way detrimental to the milk, 
and, as it is contrary to his totemic rules, the milk is 
taboo that day for him and is given to his servants after 
the evening milking. In order to provide the cows with 
the amount of salt they require, he has to purchase large 
supplies, and for it he barters goats, sheep and butter. 
He will even sometimes kill a bull and send the meat, 
or some of it, in exchange for the necessary salt; this 
is the method chiefly adopted by the king, who does not 
condescend to barter, but gives presents of meat. 

The salt districts are therefore of great importance 
and are worked with considerable skill by men and 
women whose whole lives are spent in the production 
of the necessary supply. The salt-works of Bunyoro are 
situated at Kibero, a district which lies along the shore 
of Lake Albert and on the lower slopes of the escarp- 

i6o The Soul of Central Africa 

ment. There, during the rainy season, the water from 
the hills rushes down to the lake in a river which, for 
the time, floods the salt-beds and prevents the collection 
of the salt. Under the rocky bed of this intermittent 
river there runs a stream of hot medicated water, which 
bubbles up through the rock in hot springs all along the 
course of the river for fully a mile and a half from the 
base of the escarpment. In the river-bed are the salt 
claims of the inhabitants, each claim well defined and 
marked out with stones. To obtain the salt they spread 
over the rock surface in the dry season a kind of sand, 
and the water, which contains many saline substances, 
bubbles through the holes in the rock and saturates the 
sand. After lying for some hours the sand becomes im- 
pregnated with salt and is scraped up and washed in pots, 
which are perforated with small holes at the bottom, 
so that the water, carrying the substances held by the 
sand, filters into a large vessel underneath. This water 
is then put into pots over a wood fire and evaporated, 
leaving a crust of salt deposit behind it. This is very 
impure and dark in colour, but, if necessary, it can be 
washed and evaporated repeatedly until it becomes fairly 
white. Even when thus purified it contains other com- 
pounds than sodium chloride, and to a European the 
flavour is unpleasant, though it is possible to use it in 
cooking without finding the taste too pungent. The 
people have no knowledge of the art of refining the 
product and eliminating the objectionable ingredients. 

At the salt-works there are two sacred pools in which 
the spirits who control the production of salt are supposed 
to dwell. The king used to send to the chief spirit an 
annual offering of several cows and a slave- woman. The 
cows were not sacrificed, but were kept by the chief 






Bunyoro i6i 

priest for his own use. The woman was given to one 
of the priest's servants on the understanding that the 
first-born child should belong to the spirit. If there was 
no child there was no offering, but, if a child was born, 
it was given as a sacrifice when the king sent his next 
annual offering. The infant was taken to one of the 
sacred pools, and there its throat was cut, the blood 
poured into the water, and the body dropped into the 
pool as a sacrifiee to persuade the spirit to grant greater 
quantities of salt. In the evening a sheep was thrown 
ahve into this pool and left swimming about. The people 
were told that, if the spirit accepted the offering, the 
sheep would be taken by an underground channel from 
the pool to the lake, and the dead body would be found 
next morning cast up on the lake shore. The priest told 
me that some of his servants went after dark to the pool, 
drew out the sheep, and took it by canoe some distance 
out on the lake, where they cast it into the water and 
watched it drown. The body was then drawn up on to 
the shore, and left there for the people to find on the 
following morning. 

To reach the second pool it is necessary to climb 
some distance up the rocky cliff. Into this pool a goat 
was cast annually by the chief of the place and the priest 
of the pool. The animal was left to swim about all 
night, but there were ledges on which it could support 
itself, and it was generally found alive in the morning. 
It was then taken out, killed, and eaten at the side of 
the pool by the priest, his assistants, and the chief. 
These two annual ceremonies were observed with great 
solemnity and, in the eyes of the people, were of the 
utmost importance, for they were confidently regarded 
as sure and certain means of increasing the output of 

i62 The Soul of Central Africa 

salt, and the result of neglecting them would as certainly 
be a failure of the salt supply. 

Hundreds of natives from all parts of the country 
visit these salt-works to purchase the salt. There is a 
covered market-place in which the purchasers sit while 
the vendors measure out quantities of salt in accordance 
with the value of the goods brought for barter. These 
barter goods are a strange medley, for the purchasers 
bring goats, sheep and fowls, food of various kinds — such 
as sweet potatoes, millet and other grain — cooking-pots 
and firewood, and also bark-cloths and skins for girdles. 
The king's clerk is always present to levy a toll upon 
all the salt going out, for this is one of the chief sources 
of the royal revenue. The tax is levied in kind, and the 
man uses a special measure to deduct the king's due 
from the salt measured out for each purchaser. There 
is a special hut in which the salt intended for the use 
of the king and his household is purified. There the salt 
undergoes two or three washings and evaporations, and 
comes out quite white. 

When the purchasers have secured their quota of salt 
they make it up into packages weighing from thirty to 
one hundred pounds, and tied up with plantain fibre. 
This method of wrapping things up deserves a little 
notice. Plantain trees, so called, are not woody growths, 
but consist of a central pith or core about an inch thick, 
round which grow layers of a fleshy material full of cells 
of water. The stem of a good tree is from ten to twelve 
inches in diameter, and as it grows the outer layers of 
this fleshy material dry and are pulled off by the 
gardeners. Some of them are from eight to nine feet 
long and eight inches wide at the base, and when quite 
dry are as strong as thick brown paper. There are no 



Bunyoro 163 

plantains in the neighbourhood of the salt district, so 
that the intending purchasers have to bring with them 
their material for packing the salt. It is really wonder- 
ful to see the expert way in which the natives will wrap 
up the salt, laying these fibres together and making up 
long bundles, usually some four feet long by eight inches 
in diameter. So skilful do they become that, if fibre is 
not available, they will even at times make use of blades 
of coarse grass as wrapping for salt or other things. 

The people who work the salt are of the lower class, 
and live entirely upon the proceeds of their trading and 
upon fish which they catch in the lake. Some of the 
men hunt hippopotami along the shore, and the meat 
of these animals is regarded as a delicacy. 

Another important industry in this part of the 
country is iron- working. The members of this trade are 
divided into two quite distinct branches, the smelters 
and the actual smiths. The smelters do their work in 
the hills, going there in a body of from ten to twenty. 
They build temporary huts, and settle there until the 
work is finished. During this time they do not like men 
to visit them, and a woman may on no account enter 
the camp. Their wives bring them food, but must leave 
it somewhere near, and never attempt to come in, for 
their presence would be disastrous to the success of the 
work. If a man were to have his wife with him in the 
camp, the whole of their labour would be in vain and 
the metal would fail. 

The first part of the work is to cut down a tree for 
the preparation of charcoal. This may not be done 
until the permission and favour of the tree-spirit has 
been secured. The priest of the district accompanies 
the men to the tree, and makes an offering before the 

i64 The Soul of Central Africa 

work may proceed. Unless this is done fheir axes will 
make no impression on the tree, or else, when the 
charcoal has been made, it will refuse to melt the ore. 
However, if the good will of the spirit has been secured, 
all will go well; the tree is cut and burned, and the 
charcoal is gathered in heaps or packets ready for use 
when the ore has been dug and prepared. 

Before beginning to dig the ore the men have to 
resort to another priest in order that an offering may 
be made to the spirit of the hill, for if this is neglected 
some accident will happen during the digging of the ore, 
or, when it is dug, it will prove a failure — fire will not 
melt it, or for some other reason it will be impossible 
to work it. Anyhow, the men are firmly convinced that 
something will happen, and they therefore pay their fee 
to the priest cheerfully and go about their work confident 
that all will go well. The victim, both in this case 
and in the last, is usually a goat; the animal is killed, 
and the blood poured out at the roots of the tree to be 
felled or on the spot where the men want to dig. The 
flesh is there cooked and eaten by the priest and the 
workers, who are thus brought into communion with the 
spirits concerned and receive their approval and blessing 
on the work. The men may then proceed to quarry the 
soft stone, for they never work any solid rock, but always 
the loose soft surface rubble. They use two kinds of 
stone ^ one producing a soft metal, while the metal pro- 
duced from the other is very hard and is used specially for 
hoes. Their knives, spears and more carefully prepared 
weapons are made from a blend of the soft and hard 
metal. The ore-stone is broken into pieces about the 
size of walnuts and kept in packets ready for use when 



1 ■ 



Bunyoro 165 

The smelting furnace is both simple and efficacious. 
A hole like a well, about two feet wide and two to four 
feet deep, is dug, and the walls are smoothed and lined 
with clay. On the bottom are laid dried grass and reeds, 
and then sticks and charcoal, then a layer of ore-stone, 
then another layer of charcoal, then ore again, and so on 
until the pit is filled with alternate layers of ore and char- 
coal. The mouth of the pit is covered over with clay, 
leaving a small hole in the centre to act as a chimney. 
Through this also more charcoal or ore can be added when 
necessary. Round the furnace and at an angle to it 
three or four tunnels are driven, entering the pit a few 
inches from the bottom, and in these are put clay blast- 
pipes which are attached to the mouths of the bellows. 
The bellows, of which there are usually four pairs, are 
made either of wood or clay, and are shaped like pots, 
about six to eight inches wide, the mouth, through which 
the air passes, being a hole in the side. The top of the 
pot is loosely covered with goat-skin, with a handle 
attached to the centre by which the men raise and lower 
the loose skin rapidly, thus creating a blast through the 
hole at the side into the furnace. One man will work 
two such bellows, sitting between them and keeping up 
a constant blast into the furnace until the ore is con- 
sidered to be smelted, the process taking from six to 
ten hours, according to the amount of ore. During this 
time the blowing must never cease ; the men may relieve 
each other, but the blast must be continuous. 

When the ore is ready the bellows are removed and 
the pit is broken open to allow the iron to cool a little. 
The molten metal is then lifted out by means of branches 
of trees used as levers, and two men set to work to cut 
it before it is cold, one man holding the lump with a 

i66 The Soul of Central Africa 

branch, while the other, using a common hatchet, chops 
it into pieces of different sizes for making spears, knives, 
hoes and other things in common use. 

The smiths purchase these pieces of iron from the 
smelters, paying for them with goats or fowls, which 
are supplied by the person ordering the article which is 
to be made. The taboos which the smith has to observe 
are connected not so much with the materials as with 
the obtaining or manufacture of his implements. To 
procure an anvil he goes to a hill, chooses a stone of 
suitable size and shape, and makes an offering to the 
hill spirit in order that he may be allowed to remove it. 
He then pays a number of men to go with him and carry 
it to his house. When he is near home his wife comes 
out to meet them, carrying a new bark-cloth to spread 
over the stone, which is treated as a bride and brought 
with great ceremony into the house. For two days the 
man does no work, and the stone remains in his house 
in seclusion like a bride. Then it is taken out and 
carried to its place, where it is set up and a little beer 
poured over it. The men who carry the stone are feasted 
as they would be at a marriage, and the wedding of the 
smith to his anvil is complete. These ceremonies are 
deemed necessary for the success of the work and the 
prosperity of the worker. The first piece of iron worked 
is made either into a knife, which the smith sells, giving 
the proceeds to his wife, or into a hoe, which he presents 
to her. This is, he says, for luck, that the iron may work 
well and the stone form a satisfactory anvil. 

Along with the anvil the smith chooses and brings 
in a stone to serve as the heavy hammer, such as in 
England is used by the assistant, or " striker," when 
the smith is working a piece of metal too big to be dealt 

Bunyoro 167 

with by the ordinary hammer. The assistant stands 
opposite the smith on the other side of the anvil, and, 
as the smith indicates with his hammer the spot for the 
blow, he raises the stone in both hands and brings it 
down on that place. 

Special ceremonies are also performed when a smith 
makes a big iron hammer. These hammers are heavy 
pieces of iron eight inches long and from two to three 
inches thick, tapering almost to a point at one end so 
that the man can hold it. The smith may not make 
this for himself, but, having bought the iron for it, he 
asks two fellow-smiths to come and make it. On the 
night when it is to be made he must also invite his 
parents to be present. The two smiths come in the 
evening, and commence work about three o'clock next 
morning. When the hammer is formed they give it, 
while it is still hot, to the smith's father, who puts it 
into water to harden it. It is then handed to the owner, 
who covers it with bark-cloth and treats it also like a 
bride, secluding it for two days, after which it is brought 
out and a feast is made, at which the two men who made 
the hammer are the chief guests. The owner then makes 
a knife and barters it for coffee berries, which he presents 
to his father, and the hammer is ready for ordinary use. 

Potters in Bunyoro are far more skilful than most 
of their craft in this part of Africa. The royal pots 
are made of clay, and are as thinly' worked as many 
vessels in England. They are always made by the spiral 
method; that is, the clay is worked into long thin rolls 
which the potter winds round and round, building up the 
walls of the pot, and smoothing them as they are built 
by rubbing them with small trowels of gourd. The pots 
are then very carefully dried, for exposure to the sun or 

i68 The Soul of Central Africa 

rapid drying by any means will crack them. When the 
pot is dried and hard it is rubbed ^with a polished stone 
until perfectly smooth, and then polished. This is done 
iwith graphite, which is obtained by the potter from a 
mine in a hill. I saw this mine, and found it went 
quite twenty-five feet into the hill. The potter takes 
the graphite to his home, where he grinds some of it to 
powder, and mixes it with water and the juice of a herb 
with glutinous properties. The sides of the pot are 
painted with this mixture and left to dry. The pot, 
before being baked, is again rubbed with the smooth 
stone until it attains a highly polished appearance. This 
polish gives it a silvery-grey tint, making it look as 
though it had been painted ,\vith silver paint. These 
pots are mainly for royal use, though the upper classes 
also seek to have them for milk-pots. Elegant shapes 
such as we find in Ankole are not made here; the pots 
are all either round or shaped like two gourds, one on 
top of the other, and lack the long, slender neck which 
adds so much to the beauty of the Ankole ware. The 
shape of the latter is, however, its only point of 
superiority, for it is inferior to the Bunyoro pot both 
in material and lasting properties, the clay being thicker 
and neither so well mixed nor so well baked. 

The wooden vessels used for milk and also for 
vegetable dishes are more numerous than in any other 
part of Africa, and are made with a much neater finish. 
The chiefs use large wooden vessels for their meat and 
soups, and the smoothing and final polishing of the wood 
is done with the rough surface of a certain leaf. No 
saws or planes are known, and tools like chisels and adzes 
are the only instruments used. It requires years of 
training, in addition to natural aptitude, before these 

Bunyoro 169 

tools can be manipulated with the skill to which some of 
the carpenters have attained. These artisans are all men 
from the lower class who practise their trade from boy- 
hood, and, as a rule, a son follows in his father's footsteps. 

The basket-work of Bunyoro is also finer than that 
found in any other part of the lake region. It is almost 
entirely done by princesses, who spend many hours pre- 
paring the fibre for the purpose, which is obtained from 
the bark of a common tree. The bark is wrapped in 
plantain fibre, and buried for some days until the pulpy 
part begins to decay and separate from the stringy, 
fibrous part. These strings are rubbed .with dry aloe 
fibre until they are freed from all trace of the loose pulp, 
and then commences the lengthy and tedious process of 
making the fibre white. This is done by chewing : the 
princesses hold the long strings between their outstretched 
hands and pass them through their mouths, biting gently 
until all the old dry bark is removed and the fibre is 
almost white. This is next rubbed ,with white aloe fibre 
until it is pure white, svhen it can be twisted into fine 
cord or thread and woven into the beautiful soft baskets 
for which the country is famed. Often the threads are 
dyed red, yellow and black with a vegetable dye, and 
thus patterns are made in the weaving. The stands for 
the sacred milk-pots are made with coverings of this .woven 
material in coloured patterns, and the effect is very 

Another kind of work for which these princesses are 
famed is painting the better terra-cotta coloured bark- 
cloths for the king. On the best of these they work 
patterns which they paint with blood taken from their 
own veins. One of these bark-cloths often takes many 
months to finish, because the amount of blood required 

170 The Soul of Central Africa 

to paint a cloth six or eight feet square is very great. 
When finished, the princess presents the robe to her 
brother, who is usually also her husband. The king has 
quite a number of these bark-cloths, and changes his 
dress two or three times a day for different court 

The preparation of bark-cloth is another occupation 
in which the people of Bunyoro at one time excelled. A 
full description of the process may be found in my book 
on " The Baganda," but here I may add that the culture 
of the tree and the use of its bark were known to the 
people of Bunyoro at a very early date, probably before 
these arts were learned by the Baganda. At all events, 
the best trees, which yield cloth of the finest texture, 
are grown in what is now known as the Budu district of 
Buganda, which in earlier times was part of Bunyoro. 

The bark used is the inner, or second, bark of the 
tree ; both barks are removed from the tree together, and 
the outer, which is very thin, is then scraped off. The 
inner bark is left during the night to dry, and any soft, 
pulpy substance is scraped off the inside. The worker 
then lays the strip of bark, which is some four to six feet 
long, on a log with a flattened surface, and beats it with a 
mallet which is not unlike a stonemason's, but has ridges 
cut round it, thus leaving fine lines on the bark-cloth as 
it is beaten. The man goes over the material with the 
mallet until it is beaten out to the thickness of strong 
brown paper, and by the time he has finished a strip of 
bark which was four feet long by eighteen inches wide 
will have become about six feet long and four feet wide. 
It is then spread out in the sun to dry, and the exposure 
to light gives the upper surface a tint somewhat like 
terra-cotta, while the under-side is of a lighter shade. 

Bunyoro 171 

Any holes where branches have grown or any flaws in 
the cloth are cut into neat squares and patched with 
pieces taken from the edges so deftly that, in a well- 
made bark-cloth, they are not noticeable. These cloths 
are usually made up by the men into sheets eight feet 
square, two lengths being stitched together and pressed 
in such a manner that the seam is not seen when the 
cloth is being worn. For thread they use strips of fibre 
from the dry plantain stem. Women rarely, if ever, 
learn to stitch these, and the work is left to the men, 
for sewing is not the women's work, and it is only where 
there are mission schools that women are now being 
taught to use the needle. 

The bark-cloths worn by the king and the more 
wealthy people are fumigated after they have been worn. 
For this purpose a wicker frame, like a very large inverted 
basket, is used, and under it is an earthen pot containing 
smouldering sweet-scented chips of wood. The bark-cloth 
is spread over this and left until the smoke has thoroughly 
permeated the material, finding its way into every fold 
and crease and destroying all vermin. The sweet-smell- 
ing, cleansed bark-cloths are rolled up and put aside in 
readiness for further wear. The poorer people, having 
only a limited number of cloths, cannot do this, and 
often suffer much misery from their inability to keep 
their bodies free from insect pests. 



The Appointment of the Queen — The Queen's Reception-room — 
The King's Mother — Marriage of Princesses — Children of the 
King — Marriage Ceremonies — Education of a Young Wife — 
Marriage in Agricultural Tribes — Settling in the New House — 
Care of Children—Birth of Twins and Triplets. 

THE marriage customs of Bunyoro are to a large 
extent peculiar to that country, though in sur- 
rounding countries, especially where the inhabi- 
tants are of Hamitic origin, some points of resemblance 
may be found. The choice of the queen and her marriage 
to the king were the principal ceremonies of this kind, for 
the queen naturally held the foremost place among the 
women, her only equal in rank being the king's mother, 
,who, when her son came to the throne, was officially 
granted the degree and rank of Nyina Mukamaf or 
''mother of the king," an office as important as that 
of queen. 

The queen must be a princess, but a half-sister and 
not a full sister of the king, being the daughter of his 
father by a different wife. No other person can hold 
the office ; even the most favoured wife of the king, when 
he had many, if she was not a princess, could not attain 
to it. Since the present king became a Christian he has 
had only one wife, who, however, as she is neither his 
half-sister nor a princess, cannot take the position or title 
of queen ; and that rank is held by a princess, who, though 


Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro 173 

only nominally the wife of the king, holds the title of 
Mugoli wa Muchwa, or queen. We must go back 
to the time of the late king to understand the value of 
this ojBBce to its holder and the importance which once 
attached to it. It is most probable that at one time 
descent was counted through the mother, and therefore 
only the sons of princesses were eligible for the throne. 
Later, in order to secure the succession of a son of the 
king to the throne, a king married his sister, and princesses 
were forbidden to marry any but princes. By this means 
the kingly office was retained in the male line. 

In former times, when a new king had accomplished 
all the preliminaries, that is, after he had conquered and 
killed all his brothers who aspired to the throne, had 
claimed and buried the body of his father, and had under- 
gone the rite of purification, he took his place on the 
throne and turned his attention to the appointment of 
queen and king's mother. 

All the princesses were gathered together for the 
king to choose his queen from among them. As kings 
had many children, and a large proportion of them were 
girls, quite a number of princesses would assemble in the 
reception-room of the queen, which is called Muchwa, 
and is one of the seven sacred huts through which the 
king passed on ceremonial occasions, such as the new 
moon celebrations and the daily herding of the sacred 
cows. This hut is of bee-hive shape, about twenty feet 
in diameter and fourteen to sixteen feet in height at 
the apex, with a floor of earth beaten hard. There is a 
raised platform about eighteen inches high, also of beaten 
earth, and this and the floor are carpeted with sweet- 
smelling lemon-grass. This has to be done with care, 
for every blade must lie perfectly straight, so that the 

174 The Soul of Central Africa 

whole may present an even and smooth appearance. On 
the platform is spread a rug of cowskin, and over this a 
leopard skin, on which the queen sits. Just opposite the 
queen's seat one of the poles which support the roof 
is stained with blood. By a singular custom the queen's 
reception-room was also the place where a prince or 
princess condemned by the king for any transgression was 
put to death. A cord hung on this bloodstained pole, 
and here the offending member of the royal family was 

When the king went into the assembly of princesses 
to choose his queen he was accompanied as far as the 
door of the hut by the members of the Sacred Guild, 
his special councillors, but only two might enter with 
him. The privileged men were Bamuroga, the chief 
minister, and Munyawa, the head of the royal clan. 
Inside, the assembled princesses anxiously awaited the 
choice of their brother, each desiring, even if she dared 
not hope, to be the favoured of the king. Before enter- 
ing with his ministers the king had decided which of his 
sisters he meant to appoint, and without any delay 
he singled out the recipient of the honour, telling her 
of his decision in an audible voice, that the others might 
hear and there might be no doubt or future discussion 
as to his choice. The chief minister then directed the 
princess how to act. She had to rise up and sit upon 
her throne, and her sceptre was placed before her. This 
sceptre was a long iron rod or spear with a U-shaped 
fork at one end, the points of both prongs being 
sharpened; the other end of the spear was pointed, so 
that it could be stuck into the earthen floor and made to 
stand upright. A roll, some eight inches long and two 
inches thick, made of cleansed palm leaf fronds and 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro 175 

beautifully decorated, rested on the forked end to pro- 
tect the points. Near the queen was also placed a royal 
spear, and lying by her side was a large knife ; but before 
she might hold these or her sceptre she had to be con- 
firmed in her office by a further ceremony. 

When the king had seen his queen placed on her 
throne he retired to the throne-room, and the queen ,was 
greeted and congratulated by her sisters. She had then 
to send to her home — for until this time she had dwelt 
in the household of a chief of her clan — and get a cow 
and a calf to present to the king. When these had 
arrived she was led into the throne-room by the chief 
minister, Bamuroga, who carried her sceptre and stuck 
it in the ground before the king. The queen knelt on a 
rug before the throne while Bamuroga announced : " The 
queen has come to kiss the king's hands." The queen 
presented her offering of the cow and calf through the 
chief, who, on her behalf, asked the king for his hands. 
The king extended both hands together, with the palms 
upward, and the queen kissed them, and by this act 
was confirmed in her office. The king glanced at the 
cow and calf and passed them on to one of his cowmen, 
who attended for the purpose of taking charge of the 
animals, and the first part of the ceremony was over. 

The queen might now go and rest, and her sceptre was 
taken to her own apartment, but she had to appear again 
for the ceremony of receiving the spear and knife and a 
grant of land, for the king had to set apart a portion of 
land, which became the queen's own property. Over this 
estate and its people she had complete control, the king 
only offering advice when a case was brought before him 
by the queen. Besides this special ceremony of taking 
office, the queen had to take the oath which was adminis- 

176 The Soul of Central Africa 

tered to all members of the Sacred Guild, and had to 
drink of the king's sacred milk. 

The queen had her own enclosure near the king's, 
but it ,was in every respect separate from his, and she 
went to visit him whenever she so desired. She had a 
private entrance to her own reception-room in the king's 
enclosure, and from there she could go to the king un- 
announced at any time. She never remained with him 
the whole night, but left him when he rose in the early 
morning to go to the throne-room, or before that, and 
returned to her own house. 

Next to the queen in Bunyoro came the king's mother, 
whose office was really equal in importance to that of the 
queen. She might be a princess or a woman of the 
pastoral tribe whom the late king had taken to wife. All 
sons of a king, whether born of princesses or of other 
women, were legitimate heirs to the throne, and could 
take part, on the death of their father, in the fight for 
supremacy. The successful prince at once raised his 
mother to this high rank, and she was installed with 
ceremony by Bamuroga, the chief minister, in an en- 
closure of her own near the royal residence. All the 
estates of the last king's mother came into her pos- 
session, though the king might permit the former owner 
to keep some small portion till her death, after which 
that too would fall to her successor. 

The king's mother lived in state almost equal to that 
of the king himself, and imitated to some extent the 
ceremonial observances which hedged him round. She 
kept a herd of cows for her special use, and called them 
by the same name as the king's sacred herd. She had 
one hut through which she passed daily to an enclosure 
at the back to see her cows, just as the king passed 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro 177 

through his seven sacred huts to herd his sacred cows. 
She held absolute sway over her own estates, and daily 
sat in state with her special sceptre to try the cases .which 
came before her. 

From the time she took up her position the king's 
mother might never again visit her son, nor might she 
marry, though she might still be comparatively young. 
If she fell seriously ill the king might call to see her, 
but such a visit was looked upon as a sign that she was not 
expected to recover. At her death she received greater 
honour than that given to princesses, though the form of 
burial was the same, and the king at once appointed a 
member of her clan to succeed her. 

With the exception of the queen, princesses were 

never formally married, though they might become the 

wives of their half-brothers. The king also might take 

other princesses to wife besides the queen, and these wives 

dwelt in the royal enclosure, but might only visit the 

king when he wished them to do so. Besides the 

princesses, the king could have as many other wives as 

he pleased, and was ever adding to their number with 

the help of the body of women scouts whose work has 

already been described. All the wives, with the exception 

of the queen, had houses in the royal enclosure, but when 

one of them was about to be confined she was taken 

away, for no such event as a birth might take place 

inside, nor, indeed, might any sick person lie within 

the enclosure. The wife was sent to a chief of the Sacred 

Guild, whom the king ordered to take charge of her; 

the chief chosen was usually one related to the woman, 

that is, a member of the same clan having the same 

totem, and therefore, as a clan-brother, in a position to 

be the guardian. It was in a house provided by him that 

178 The Soul of Central Africa 

the child was born, and to him that the child looked in 
after Hfe for help and friendship. At the end of three 
years, or earlier if the king so desired, the child was 
weaned and the mother left it and returned to the royal 
enclosure. The chief took the place of a father, pro- 
viding for the child and seeing that everything was done 
for its welfare. If it was a boy, the king, in a general 
way, supervised his education and named the kraal to 
which he must go for instruction in all matters concern- 
ing the cattle. He would see the child from time to 
time to learn how he grew and what progress he made, 
but the chief was responsible for his upbringing and 

When the king saw that one of his sons w^as grow- 
ing up, he ordered him to have the six front teeth in 
the lower jaw extracted. This was a tribal custom for 
both men and women and was done at puberty, no man 
or woman of the tribe being looked upon as fully grown 
until it had taken place. Any person who refused to 
undergo the operation was held in contempt; neither 
men nor women would accept such a partner in marriage, 
and such a man would be forbidden any share in the 
deliberations of the court. 

Princes married at an early age, in fact while they 
were still merely boys, the marriage being always by 
their father's wish and the bride being usually supplied 
by him. When once the king had consented to his son's 
marriage, the chief with whom the boy lived was not 
slow to provide him with other wives, and the boy him- 
self would sometimes hear of or see women whom he 
would desire to take in marriage. 

Fifteen was the usual age for a girl to marry, and 
they were often mothers at that age. When a girl 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro 179 

showed signs of maturity her mother shut her away in 
one of her private rooms, and though in years she might 
not be more than nine or ten, she was no longer con- 
sidered to be a child or allowed to play like one ; she was 
not even permitted to walk about, for she had to grow 
fat. Girls were frequently betrothed, in infancy, to 
youths who were also children and could therefore afford 
to wait until their brides were old enough to marry. The 
boy's parents made the match, paying to the girl's 
parents two or three cows, and the youth might not 
have seen his bride until she was ready to be married. 
Often, indeed, the young couple never met until the 
wedding day. When the boy and girl were growing up 
their parents told them to whom they were engaged, 
and the boy sent presents periodically to his prospective 
mother-in-law for herself and for his bride, thus showing 
that he meant to carry out the engagement made for 
him by his parents. 

When the time arrived for the marriage to take place, 
the bridegroom sent a brother or a near relative to ask 
when he might take his bride. This messenger took 
with him a present, and, in consultation with the girl's 
parents, arranged the day of the marriage and also the 
number of cows he must bring to them as a marriage 
fee. As a rule the parents would demand twenty cows 
and a few other things. The messenger went away, and 
returned later, bringing the marriage fee and accom- 
panied by a party of young men, who were prepared 
to stay for one or perhaps two nights before the whole 
of the marriage arrangements could be completed. The 
parents might object to some of the cows, saying they 
were not good enough, and these would have to be ex- 
changed before they would come to terms. Then there 

i8o The Soul of Central Africa 

.was the final feast, when the bride said good-bye to the 
friends and companions of her girihood. The messenger 
received the bride from her father, who, with his daughter 
on his knees, gave him solemn injunctions respecting 
her treatment, and pointed out that, should she fail to 
please her husband, or should he at any time ill-use her, 
she could return to her home. The bride was also in- 
structed as to her behaviour, and enjoined to be dutiful 
and respectful to her husband. After this the father 
handed her over to the messenger, who thereupon kissed 
the father's hands as a sign that he took her with her 
father's full consent. 

The bride was veiled from head to foot so that she 
could not be seen, and was carried, by the young men 
who came with the messenger, in a litter made of cow- 
skin. She was accompanied by her father's sister, who 
was also carried, and in her train there were usually some 
six or seven young girls, who remained with her for a 
day or two. The party left the bride's home at an hour 
which would permit of their reaching the bridegroom's 
home at sunset, when the cows returned from pasture, 
for this was the proper time for a bride to enter her new 
abode. The party sang and danced as they went along, 
and when they reached the neighbourhood of her new 
home the bridegroom, hearing the sound of the songs, 
would meet them at a few minutes' walk from the 
kraal, driving before him two calves. When the party 
reached him, the bride was allowed to alight to receive 
his greeting, and she walked the rest of the way to the 
kraal, preceded by the calves and followed by the bride- 
groom, who, as her guardian, carried two spears. Even 
when walking the bride was veiled from head to foot 
in a well-dressed cowskin robe which concealed both 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro i8i 

form and features, leaving only a small opening for her 
to see through* 

When they entered the kraal the bridegroom pointed 
out the house of his parents, and the bride led the pro- 
cession thither. Only the bride and bridegroom entered, 
and the bridegroom presented his bride to his father, 
who took her on his knees, embraced her, and passed her 
on to his wife, who also took her into her lap and 
embraced her, thus receiving her into the family as a 
daughter. The sister of the bride's father and the bride's 
girl friends then entered, and all adjourned to the bridal 
chamber and sat down to await the further proceedings. 

When the cows were milked, a young cow with its 
first calf was chosen to provide the marriage milk. The 
choice of the cow was important, for both cow and calf 
must be in good condition and healthy. Should the 
cow have lost its calf or the calf be sickly, either the 
couple would have no children or those they had would 
be unhealthy. The milk was brought by the bride- 
groom's mother in a specially prepared wooden pot and 
handed to her son, who drank a little and passed it on 
to the bride. By drinking this milk the bride signified 
her consent to the union and ratified the marriage bond. 
The milk left over was handed back to the bridegroom's 
mother, who set it aside until the early morning, when 
she drank it as a final confirmation of the marriage. 

The bridegroom next placed his hand on the inner 
side of the bride's thigh as she sat on the bed by her 
aunt, and promised to care for her. During the night 
the party of young men who had brought the bride were 
regaled ,with a plentiful supply of beer, and they sang 
and danced, with the members of the household, in front 
of the kraal until morning. The bridegroom sat with 

i82 The Soul of Central Africa 

his bride and the party in the bridal chamber, paying 
now and then a visit to the men who were celebrating 
the occasion outside. 

At dawn the young people ,were summoned by the 
bride's aunt to go through a purificatory rite, which, in 
order to bring them blessing in the future, had to be 
performed before the sun rose. They left the house and 
went into the court, where they undressed and sat side 
by side, naked, on the ground, surrounded by friends 
holding bark-cloths to form screens, while the bride's 
aunt took a bowl of water and a bunch of herbs and 
sprinkled them from head to foot. She dipped the herbs 
in the water and sprinkled the bridegroom first, passing 
the bunch up his right leg and side to his head, and down 
his left leg to his foot; when she had treated the bride 
in the same way they both stood up, their clothes were 
wrapped round them, and they returned to the bridal 
chamber. This ceremony was supposed to annul any 
magic which might have been .worked against them, and 
thus to give them a fair start in their new life. 

The bride's aunt remained several days with the 
young couple to see that all went well and to advise and 
instruct the bride in her behaviour, but the rest of the 
party, having each received some present from the bride- 
groom, returned to their homes earlier. When the aunt 
left she was given a cow, or a cow and a calf, according 
to the circumstances of the bridegroom. She had to 
carry a report of all that had happened to the bride's 
parents and comfort them for the loss of their daughter. 
At the end of a month the bridegroom visited his wife's 
parents, and was received as a son by being taken on 
the knees of each and embraced. 

The bride remained with her mother-in-law for some 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro 183 

months ; indeed, she often lived there until her first baby 
was born. It was the duty of the mother-in-law to teach 
her all about churning and the care of the milk vessels, 
which was the only work the women of a pastoral family 
were expected to do, though their leisure might be spent 
in weaving a kind of basket or stringing beads. Though 
the bride might have for years done this work, she had 
to begin at the beginning again and learn it all from 
the mouth of her mother-in-law, who explained it as if 
to a child. The bride had to wash and dry the milk- 
pots under her mother-in-law's supervision and to her 
satisfaction, before she was allowed to perform the next 
step and fumigate them with the grass furnace. Then 
she had to learn all the details of churning, the names 
and uses of the different pots, which of them belonged 
to ghosts and which to the various members of the 

In agricultural families the ceremonies gone through 
at marriage were much the same, but the sum given as 
the marriage fee differed. The value might amount to 
ten or more cows, but it was paid mainly in goats and 
sheep, though bark-cloths, hoes and salt might be added 
to make up the amount demanded. The parents often 
asked for some gift in addition to the marriage fee — a 
bark-cloth for the bride's mother, an animal for the 
feast, a knife to kill the animal, salt to season the meat, 
and so forth, until a large number of gifts had been 
added to the original sum demanded. It was diflBcult 
for the youth to refuse these, though he might see him- 
self being drawn into an indebtedness from which it 
would take him perhaps years to free himself. 

The bride was veiled and taken to the bridegroom's 
home in the evening, and went through similar ceremonies 

i84 The Soul of Central Africa 

of being received and taking the marriage pledge in the 
presence of the mother-in-law. Instead of the milk- 
drinking, however, a porridge-pot was placed on the 
fire and the bride had to make some porridge, which 
she and the bridegroom stirred together, holding the 
handle of the same spoon. The bride then remained in 
seclusion some four or five days, during which time she 
was visible only to the bridegroom and a few very 
intimate friends. 

On the fifth day the bride's parents sent the materials 
for the reception feast. This meal the bride prepared 
under the supervision of her mother-in-law, who had to 
give her minute directions as to the preparation and 
cooking of the food. When the meal was ready, the 
bridegroom brought his friends to eat it, and bride and 
bridegroom were congratulated, the one upon her cook- 
ing and the other upon securing such a good wife. To 
complete the marriage ceremony the bride had then to 
fetch a small pot of water from the well and, on her way, 
to gather a few sticks. This drawing of water and carry- 
ing of fuel typified the duties of a wife, who cared for 
her husband's welfare and cooked his food. 

At the end of four months the new house which was 
to be the home of the young people was expected to 
be ready and completely furnished according to native 
requirements, with the exception of the fire-stones on 
which pots are placed over the fire for cooking. For the 
ceremony of putting these in place the bride's mother 
came, bringing with her uncooked food for a meal. The 
bride, accompanied by her mother and mother-in-law, 
went to some place in the neighbourhood where stones 
suitable for the purpose might be found. When chosen, 
these were carried to the new home and set in position 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyorb 185 

on the hearth. The bride was then instructed how to 
light the fire and cook savoury dishes, and advised .what 
kind of food a man prefers. The bride, under the super- 
vision of her elders, carried out these instructions, and 
a meal was cooked which had to be eaten by the bride- 
groom, with his mother and mother-in-law, before the 
bride could settle in the house and use it and its contents 
for ordinary work. Among these agricultural clans the 
bridegroom might never look at or address his mother-in- 
law again after the day of his marriage, but must sit, 
on occasions such as this feast, where he could not see 
her, and if he should meet her he must step out of the 
way and avert his eyes or hide himself from her sight. 
Should anything happen to prevent one or other of the 
mothers from coming to this meal, the house could not 
be set in order and the bride could not cook food in it ; 
until both mothers were able to come, she must get some 
friend to cook for her in another house. Unless these 
rules were followed by the two, they could not expect 
to have children or a happy home. Some evils would be 
for ever coming upon them, and often in such a case the 
unhappy marriage would be dissolved and the wife would 
go back to her parents, who would return the marriage 

Marriages are seldom, if ever, the outcome of love, 
but are entered into for utilitarian and economic reasons. 
In the higher classes the man has one great object in 
view — that is, to have children; and in the case of the 
peasant there is, in addition, the desire for more comfort 
in his home life. In the case of the woman she obtains 
from marriage all she considers worth having in life, for 
a woman who is unmarried and childless is a despised 
nobody, without position or rights. Both parties, there- 

i86 The Soul of Central Africa 

fore, agree to marriage as readily and as cheerfully as 
though love drew them together. In many cases real 
devotion and love do appear, but such feelings have to 
grow after marriage, and the possibility of their arising 
depends upon the disposition of the man. Though the 
meaning of love is known, and it is often seen in the 
attachment between husband and wife, the word is seldom 
used, and, indeed, in most Bantu languages such a term 
does not exist. 

In most of the pastoral tribes it is usual for a man 
to take only one wife to reside with him, but when there 
is a baby the wife nurses it for three years, living 
meanwhile apart from her husband, and this separation 
frequently leads the man, if he can afford to do so, to 
take a second wife. Whenever he can, the husband 
will provide a nurse for his baby ; this will be a member 
of his own clan, either a full-grown woman or a youngei: 
relative, who will act as nurse until she marries. A 
wealthy man will give his wife a slave-girl to look after 
the baby and be responsible for it until it can take care 
of itself. A mother is seldom expected to do more than 
nurse her child, and if the husband wishes to take her 
back to his bed before the expiration of the recognized 
three years, she gives the child into the charge of the 
nurse, and it is at once weaned and fed upon cow's milk. 

Among the agricultural people a man seldom marries 
more than one wife, and she nurses her baby for three 
years, living apart from her husband. Among this class 
communism is carried so far that all the wives of the 
clan-brothers are held in common, so that the three 
years' separation does not lead to the taking of a second 

The birth of twins is propitious and is the subject 

Marriage Customs Among the Banyoro 187 

of congratulation to the parents, who, however, have to 
observe a number of taboos. Preparations are made for 
a dance in honour of the twins, and while these are going 
forward the father has to wear a distinctive dress and 
collects presents from the friends and relatives whom he 
summons to the dance. The mother, meanwhile, has to 
keep in seclusion, and may not leave the house except in 
the evening, and even then may not go farther than a 
small enclosure at the back. Two small drums are beaten 
almost continuously with a special rhythm peculiar to 
twin dances, and people come daily to inquire and to 
dance before the house. When the time of the dance 
has come, the friends and relatives all gather together to 
rejoice, and the twins are brought out and shown to 
them. Twins are the gift of the god of plenty, and the 
parents like them to be a boy and a girl. Should they 
be two boys, the mother and her family hasten to make 
offerings to the god of plenty, because, by showing the 
husband this preference, he signifies that he is for some 
reason annoyed with the female side of the house. If 
they are both girls, the father and his family make offer- 
ings to remove the ill-will which the god must feel 
towards them. 

Should a woman, however, give birth to triplets, she 
and her children, her father and her mother, are taken 
to some waste land at a distance, and all of them are put 
to death. Such a birth is looked upon as a calamity, and 
if these people were left alive they would bring some 
curse upon the country. The father is not put to death, 
but he must never again look upon the king lest he should 
cause some evil to fall upon him. To guard against any 
such danger his eyes are gouged out, and he is left to 
live in blindness. 



Sickness — Exorcizing the Ghost — Burial and Mourning Ceremonies 
— The Heir — Induction into the Sacred Guild — Worship of the 
Ghost — King's Burial — Succession and Purification. 

AMONG the Bantu peoples sickness and death are 
seldom attributed to any cause other than magic 
or supernatural influence, that is to say, the in- 
fluence of some ghost, for the ghost is the only super- 
natural agency they understand. They may, and in most 
cases do, attribute the action of the ghost to human 
persuasion or conduct, for not only may an alien ghost 
be incited, by some person who bears a clan or some 
member of it a grudge, to ,work evil, but a friendly ghost, 
a ghost belonging to the clan, ,will ever ,watch carefully 
over the behaviour of its own family, and will cause illness 
in order to bring to the notice of the clan or the family 
any infringement of law or custom. The procedure 
followed in Bunyoro is, in its main points, typical of 
that of the other pastoral clans. 

If a man falls sick, and his wife considers it to be 
only a cold or some slight ailment from which he will 
soon recover, she will treat him herself. If, however, the 
illness continues and she becomes alarmed, she at once 
summons her husband's relatives and sends for a medicine- 

The first medicine-man to be summoned is one whose 




Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 189 

speciality lies in the use of divination or augury to dis- 
cover the cause of the sickness. There are several 
different ways of taking the augury. Some use the water 
test, in which powder is sprinkled in a pot of water and 
the form taken by the floating dust is observed. Others, 
again, shake seeds in a small shallow basket and then 
scatter them upon a rug, and infer from the position in 
which they fall the cause of the illness. Such tests do 
not satisfy all inquirers, and in more important cases 
the augury is taken from a fowl, a goat, or a cow. The 
throat of the animal is cut so that both arteries are 
severed, and the flow of blood is watched. This, however, 
is only part of the ceremony. The medicine-man then 
opens the animal and examines the liver and intestines, 
reading from the markings on them the cause of the 
sickness, and delivering therefrom his verdict as to 
whether the man will live or die. 

This man does no more than take the augury; he 
never prescribes for the patient, but tells the friends 
whom they must ask to prescribe and to carry out the 
necessary treatment. If a ghost has been found to be 
the cause of the sickness, it may either be a friendly 
ghost, that is, a spirit member of the same clan who has 
been annoyed in some way, or it may be an alien ghost 
from another clan. The former has to be persuaded to 
come out without the use of force, and no injury must 
be done to it, but the latter may be forcibly exorcized, 
captured, and destroyed. There are, therefore, various 
ways of dealing with a person afflicted by a ghost, and it 
is the duty of the medicine-man who undertakes the cure 
of the case to exorcize the ghost in the proper manner 
according to its kind. In the case of a ghost belonging 
to the same clan as the patient, the usual way is to 

igo The Soul of Central Africa 

present to the ghost a sheep or a goat. The animal is 
tied to the head of the patient's bed, and is sometimes 
attached to the patient himself, by a cord which forms 
a path for the ghost to travel along. At the intercession 
of the medicine-man it is hoped that the ghost will accept 
the gift, and show its acceptance by leaving the patient 
and entering the animal. A wealthy person may even 
offer a slave-woman to the ghost, and the slave will sleep 
near the bed so that the ghost may enter her. The 
animal or slave thus offered remains, until the end of its 
Hfe, the property of the ghost. 

When, however, the ghost which is troubling a patient 
is found to belong to an alien clan the procedure is 
very different. The object of the presence of such a 
ghost is not mere punishment, as it may be in the case 
of the clan ghost, but it comes to wreak on the patient 
the ill-will or vengeance of some clan or personal enemy, 
and its intention is to kill. Therefore it must be exor- 
cized and captured. Sometimes an attempt is made to 
compel the ghost to come out by making its dwelling- 
place thoroughly unpleasant. The unfortunate patient 
has to endure all sorts of foul smells, or is almost suffo- 
cated by inhaling clouds of noxious fumes, in order to 
compel the ghost to flee from him. More often, how- 
ever, the medicine-man resorts to deception and entices 
the ghost to leave the patient and partake of some 
tempting meal. It is believed that ghosts dislike open 
places, therefore the meat is put in an empty .water- 
pot and a few blades of grass are arranged over the mouth 
to form a screen for the shy spirit. The grass serves 
another purpose also, for, though the ghost is invisible, 
it cannot enter the water-pot without causing the grass 
to quiver. Men therefore keep a careful watch on the 

Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 191 

grass, and when it shows a movement they at once tell 
the medicine-man, who is sitting on the opposite side 
of the fire, chanting songs to encourage the ghost to 
come out. On hearing that the ghost has entered the 
pot, he quickly covers it with a goatskin, which he ties 
down, securing the ghost inside. The ghost then calls 
from the pot and squeaks and cries as though in terror 
and distress. In some instances the medicine-man is 
a ventriloquist, but if he does not possess that power he 
uses an instrument which he conceals under his arm and 
which squeaks on pressure. At all events he deceives 
the patient into the belief that the ghost is caught, and 
he carries the pot away and either destroys it by fire 
or casts it into a stream. He then proceeds to give some 
simple remedy to heal the sickness. 

This healing by suggestion is commonly adopted in 
many parts of Africa, and it is often found to work a 
cure where drugs and other ordinary means would fail. 
When their treatment fails and the patient dies, the 
medicine-men are never at a loss to give an explanation 
to the family, and their treatment and remedies are never 
acknowledged to be in fault. The influence of a malevo- 
lent ghost is always regarded as a satisfactory and com- 
plete explanation of a patient's death. 

The European who has an opportunity of looking into 
the hut in which a patient lies is more surprised that 
he can ever recover than that he often dies, for the 
conditions are almost indescribable. There is never any 
ventilation, and the dirt of weeks lies on the floor. 
Crowds of people throng the room to show their sym- 
pathy, and vitiate the already impure air still more, 
while their constant talk and movement must be dis- 
tinctly harmful as well as excessively irritating to any 

192 The Soul of Central Africa 

sick person. Added to all this is the fact that, though 
a native does not generally succumb easily to anything 
like a broken limb or an amputation, in which the danger 
lies primarily in shock to the nervous system, he seems 
to have no reserves of physical endurance, and gives 
way rapidly when a call is made, as in fever, on his 
strength of constitution and recuperative power, and the 
addition of a mere suggestion of magical influence is 
enough to make him collapse at once. Again, nursing 
of any kind is not a strong feature in native medical 
treatment ; the patient is expected to follow his ordinary 
diet, or if unable to touch solid food, to live on milk 
or beer, and he is allowed to take nourishment or leave 
it just as he pleases. With all this to strive against, it 
would seem that a patient has but little chance of recovery. 
In cases of contagious disease, such as small-pox, people 
are forbidden to visit the patient, and even dogs are 
kept tied up so as not to wander near the hut. At such 
times the patient is fed chiefly upon plantain wine, and 
is only given other food upon recovery. 

When a man dies the procedure is laid down by 
clan regulations. In all cases except that of royalty the 
dead are buried within a few hours, and all traces of death 
are removed ; but a man of the pastoral people may not 
be buried in the absence of his cows, so that the body 
must wait until the cows come back to the kraal at night. 
Among the Banyoro pastorals, as in Ankole, the body 
is bent up into the sitting posture and the hands are 
placed under the right side of the head. The body is 
then .wrapped round with the cowskin on which the man 
lay, or the bark-cloth with which he covered himself, 
or with both if he possessed both. He lies in state for 
a few hours until the cows return from pasture, and the 

Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 193 

herdsmen, who were out .with the cows, can join in the 
mourning. The body is then buried either in the kraal 
or near it, and mourning and waihng begin and are con- 
tinued without intermission throughout the whole night. 
The cows, too, must take their part in the general noise, 
so they are not milked and are kept apart from their 
calves, which are shut up in the huts. The calves call 
to their dams and the cows low in reply and try to get 
to them all night. The people must not take any sleep ; 
even children are made to lie outside the kraal with their 
elders before a large fire, where they lament until morn- 
ing. With the dawn the cows are milked and left with 
their calves, and the children are fed. 

With morning comes the heir, who is generally an 
elder son of the dead man, though that is not necessarily 
the case. In regard to property, clan-communism pre- 
vails and a man has not absolute control over the disposal 
of his possessions, for the heir must be acceptable to the 
clan. He may be the eldest or some other son of the 
deceased, or someone who, according to our Western 
ideas, is no relation at all, for the clan may elect one 
who is only a clan-brother to inherit. Whoever the man 
may be, then, he is introduced to the mourners by a 
clan-elder, in the morning after the funeral, as the heir. 
He then decides whether there shall be a period of mourn- 
ing, and announces where it shall take place and how 
long it shall continue. He is responsible for the support 
of the mourners during the period of mourning, when 
they may not drink milk but are fed on beef and beer. 
Should the deceased have been a wealthy man, possessing 
a large number of cows, the period of mourning will 
be proportionately long, because more beef will be avail- 
able for the food of the mourners. Indeed, the custom 


194 The Soul of Central Africa 

is that all the full-grown bulls in each herd must be 
killed. At the owner's death these animals are separated 
from the cows and fresh bulls are introduced into 
the herds. The full-grown bulls are then killed as 

When the arrangements for the mourning have been 
made, the heir sits during the first day to hear any cases 
of debt against the estate of his predecessor, and all 
claimants must appear during that day or forfeit any 
right of repayment or redress. The heir investigates 
each case and must discharge every legitimate claim, but 
he may appeal in open court against any claim he may 
consider unfair. During the rest of the mourning period 
the heir can do little olBicial work in public, for he also is 
supposed to be a mourner and wears the guise of mourn- 
ing, even though his connexion with the dead man may 
be only clan-brothership, and though the death may have 
caused him no los§! and much gain. 

One of the most important steps that have to be taken 
is to inform the king of the death. This is not so easy 
as it sounds, because, as the king is supposed to be equal 
if not superior to death, to tell him that death has suc- 
ceeded in robbing him of a subject is a task fraught 
with risk and even danger to life. The heir therefore 
chooses two or three men whom he knows to be fleet 
of foot, and in the early morning, with the first signs 
of dawn just showing, these set out for the royal 
enclosure, driving in front of them a cow. They follow 
the main road until they approach the enclosure, when 
they stop and send the cow forward at a run. As it 
nears the gate they shout, " So-and-so is dead. Death 
has robbed you," and flee for their lives, for the guards 
of the great chief '' Bamuroga " at once rush out of the 

Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 195 

enclosure to capture the bold men who dare shout such 
an insulting message to their king. Capture would mean 
death, but as the messengers have a good start and the 
guard do not follow far, there is not much likelihood of 
that. After a short chase the men of the guard return, 
catch and kill the cow, and eat as much as they can before 
daybreak. When the sun appears all that remains 
must be quickly buried, and all traces of the meal 
removed. Should the sun be allowed to shine on any 
of it, it would bring disaster upon the king and the 

When the heir considers that the time has come to 
end the mourning he commands the mourners to pre- 
pare for their purificatory rites. During the time of 
mourning they may not shave or wash, cut their hair or 
pare their nails, so that, in cases where the mourning 
has lasted several months, their condition can be better 
imagined than described. Before they come into contact 
with the outside world again all appearances of mourning 
must be removed. The hair on all parts of the body, 
even to the eyebrows, is shaved off, their nails are pared, 
and, having washed, each mourner is given by the heir a 
new garment to wear. Then they go to a special house 
where the friends from whom they have been separated 
all the time of mourning may welcome them. The final 
act of purification is to visit the king and greet him, 
presenting him with the compulsory offering of a cow, 
after which they may return to their normal existence. 

The king sends a messenger to see the heir and report 
on his suitability for the post. Should the king dis- 
approve, the clan members must appoint some other 
person whom the king may suggest. The new owner 
is then commanded to visit the king to be confirmed in 

196 The Soul of Central Africa 

his ofBce. He presents the king with a cow and seals 
his appointment by kissing the king's hands. 

Should the heir be a man who is to be admitted to 
membership of the Sacred Guild, there will be a longer 
and much more elaborate ceremony to be gone through. 
Membership of this Guild is the highest honour to which 
any man of the nation can attain, and is equivalent to 
brotherhood with the king, the bond being made by the 
drinking of the king's sacred milk. The members have 
to stand by their king and be faithful to him until death. 
When a chief has been presented to the king and com- 
pleted the preliminary ceremonies, a few days are allowed 
to elapse before he is called upon to take the vows and 
go through the ceremony of being inducted into the office 
of member of the Sacred Guild. To this function he 
comes in fear and trembling, for a great responsibility is 
about to be laid upon him. 

On the day appointed by the king the novice arrays 
himself in his finest garments, and, escorted by a chief, 
comes to the royal enclosure. His companion is a 
member of the Guild, who, knowing the necessary pro- 
cedure of the ceremony, can prompt the novice. He 
must bring with him a cow and a calf to present to the 
king, and innumerable presents of other kinds, for after 
the ceremony is over he can hardly move without paying 
somebody for something. At the entrance gate the 
novice waits until his arrival has been announced to the 
king and the order is given for him to enter. He is 
conducted to the throne-room by his adviser, who never 
leaves him, and on being led before the king he kneels 
down to greet him, whereupon the king tells him he is 
about to become one of the select body of the Sacred 
Guild. The man then calls for the cow and calf which 

Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 197 

he brought with him, and presents them to the king, 
after which the king gives him his hands to kiss, jvhich 
is the sign of confirmation in office. 

The king commands one of the dairymaids to bring 
a pot of the sacred milk, and the novice is conducted 
to a special hut, while the king goes there by another 
path to watch him drink it. The novice is so overcome 
by nervousness at the thought of the honour which is 
being conferred on him that he often requires support 
from his adviser while he drinks a little of the milk and 
makes a declaration of loyalty. He then returns to the 
throne-room on his way to the gate, but his progress is 
now very slow, for, during his absence in the hut where 
he drank the milk, triumphal arches have been erected 
and barriers thrown up across his path, so that at every 
turn he is confronted by some obstacle and has to pay 
with gifts for permission to pass. His companion doles 
out presents on all sides, and from the throne-room con- 
ducts the novice to his own home. It is a day of rejoic- 
ing, but an expensive one for the new chief, who is 
expected to be willing to disburse large sums of money 
in recognition of the honour paid to him. 

When he reaches home he is seated in some con- 
spicuous place, and relatives and friends come to look 
upon their new chief ; but he may not speak until sun- 
set, when the cows return. His first words must be 
addressed to one of his trusted servants, one who has 
been a faithful herdsman for years. To this man he 
presents a cow, one of the finest animals he possesses, a 
gift which makes the man a devoted servant for the rest 
of his life. The new chief is now permitted to talk freely 
with his friends and rejoice with them. 

About this time a dairymaid from the royal enclosure 

198 The Soul of Central Africa 

comes with the milk-pot containing the milk left by the 
novice at the time of the oath-taking, and this has to 
be drunk by a man and woman, near relatives of the 
chief. Even in the lifetime of a man's real father he 
regards as and calls '* father" another man of the clan, 
generally an uncle, and it is this man and his wife who 
drink the remainder of the sacred milk. The milkmaid 
remains with the new chief four or five .weeks, and is 
treated with great honour. She has a new hut built for 
her, and is fed on the best food they can procure. At 
the end of her visit the new chief gives her a cow and 
a calf. These she shows to the king on her return, and 
he tells her to keep them. 

The duties of an heir towards his predecessor must 
not be forgotten, for there are many things to be done 
for the dead. One or two cows or more may be dedicated 
to the ghost, and the milk from these has to be placed 
daily before the shrine for the dead. In each house, 
between the head of the owner's bedstead and the place 
where the roof of the hut meets the floor, there is a 
shrine where the milk is daily offered. The shrine is a 
mound or platform of beaten earth from two to two-and-a- 
half feet high, four feet long, and two wide. It is 
covered with scented lemon-grass, and on it is spread a 
rug, usually a cowskin. The milk-pots placed on this 
shrine are of wood, and may not be used for any other 
purpose but the milk of the ghost. After each milk- 
ing the wife of the house places these pots on the platform 
for the ghost, who is expected to come and drink the 
essence of the milk and thus to be satisfied. The owner 
then calls one or more members of the family who are 
resident in his house to come and drink the milk that 
is left. Any son or daughter who is married or who lives 

Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 199 

elsewhere is debarred from partaking of this milk, nor 
may a man's wife, who is of a different clan, drink it. 
If the ghost's herd of cattle increases, and the heir jvishes 
to dispose of some of them or to kill any of the bulls, 
he cannot do so without first summoning the priest, and 
through him obtaining permission from the ghost to take 
animals from its herd. 

When a king died, his body had to be interred in a 
particular part of the country which was reserved for the 
tombs of kings. A large pit was dug for the grave, and 
over it a hut was built. The body of the king was 
arranged with the knees bent up towards the chin in a 
squatting attitude, and was stitched in a cowskin. The 
whole of the grave was lined first with cowskins and then 
with bark-cloths, and the body was laid on a bed of 
bark-cloth. Two of the king's wives were selected to go 
with him into the other world, land they went into the 
grave, laid the body on the bed as though sleeping, and 
covered it with bark-cloths. Then they lay down, one 
on either side of the body, and the grave was filled with 
innumerable bark-cloths, some of which were spread over 
the body, while others were thrown in until the grave 
was full and they were heaped above the level of the 
floor. No earth was put into the grave, which was filled 
.with bark-cloths only. 

In this large shrine or temple some of the widows 
kept watch, guarding it constantly, and a priest and 
medium were in attendance. People came to the tomb 
to visit the king as if it were his court, and they made 
requests of him and brought him offerings, which became 
the property of the widows. At times the reigning king 
would send gifts of cows to his predecessor, and the priest 
and medium held communion with the dead and informed 

200 The Soul of Central Africa 

the king of anything that came to their knowledge which 
concerned him or his country. 

Once each year a mock king was chosen from a 
particular clan to impersonate the dead king, and the 
people believed that the monarch ,was temporarily re- 
incarnated in this man. For a .week the man reigned in 
the temple of the dead king and held his court there. 
He was given great honour, and had the temple widows 
as his wives, as though he were the late king himself. 
The reigning king sent him gifts of cattle and slaves, 
and he dispensed his favours royally during the one 
,week of his reign. The principal minister of the king, 
'' Bamuroga," came to conduct these ceremonies. He 
placed the mock king on the throne, and saw that he 
was given due honour by everyone who came. When 
the week was ended, Bamuroga took the mock king 
to the back of the temple and strangled him, casting 
the body away on some waste piece of land. There ,was 
no funeral or any ceremonial observance, and little, if 
any, notice was taken of his death. 

The temple of the last king was the place to which 
the reigning king applied for advice on any matters con- 
nected with the country, for the dead king, through his 
priest and medium, could always give him help. The 
temple, and in fact the whole place of the tombs, were 
under the control of the great chief, Bamuroga. 

This '' Bamuroga " was the greatest chief of the land, 
ranking in power and importance next to the king. One 
of his duties was to take charge of the country and guard 
the king's body during the interval between the death 
of one king and the accession of the next. As I have 
already mentioned, the regular custom in Bunyoro was 
for the question of the king's successor to be settled by 

Bunyoro— Death, Burial and Succession 201 

an appeal to arms. Immediately on the death of the 
king those princes who .wished to assert their claim to 
the throne gathered their followers and set to work to 
exterminate all other claimants. Usually only a small 
number were sufficiently powerful to take part in the 
quarrel ; probably only three would go to war, jvhile the 
rest would await the result. Each of the contending 
princes had to take special steps for the safety of his 
mother, for should she be captured and killed by a rival 
he would lose the support of all those who had attached 
themselves to her in view of the time when she might 
be that important person, the mother of the king. Each 
prince, then, would send his mother as soon as possible 
to some place of safety outside the capital. The chiefs 
of the Sacred Guild took no part in these wars. Their 
duty was to assist in guarding the body of the dead 
king until the victorious prince came to claim it for 

When the time came for the actual burial of the 
king the feelings of all concerned must have been some- 
what mixed. The chief mourner — that is, the new king 
— celebrated in the burial and mourning ceremonies his 
victory over his rivals, while the people were rejoicing 
over a return to peaceful conditions. The whole country 
had felt the effects of the contest for the throne. 
Agriculture could only be carried on in outlying districts, 
while in and around the capital fighting took place daily, 
and there was constant looting of cattle and foodstuffs. 
The burial of the king's body ended this state of anarchy 
and brought peace to the land, whereupon the people 
were expected to begin to bewail his death, for until 
this time no official mourning might take place outside 
the royal enclosure. 

202 The Soul of Central Africa 

When the new king had buried his father, mourning 
ceased and the country underwent purification. The 
king chose a sister to perform this ceremony, whereby 
she not only cleansed the royal house, but included in 
the purification the entire people, the cattle, and the 
land. She was given a bunch of herbs and a bowl in 
which was a mixture of water and white clay, and .with 
this she sprinkled first her brother, the new king, then 
the princes and princesses, and finally the people, the 
cattle, and the earth. During the sprinkling she covered 
her eyes, and as she waved her brush for the last time 
she indicated some place and said, " I see such and such 
a land." She then departed and took up her residence 
in that part of the country, where she was given an 
estate sufficient to provide for all her wants, for never 
again might she come before the king or enter the 

There was yet another rite to be performed before 
the purification ceremonies were ended. The chief 
minister, " Bamuroga," went to one of the young princes 
and persuaded him that the people had chosen him to be 
their king. The boy was set upon the throne, and the 
real king, with all the chiefs, came to do obeisance as 
though they acquiesced in the choice and wished to take 
the oath of allegiance to him. They brought with them 
presents of cows and offered him gifts and congratula- 
tions. When all had presented their offerings, Bamuroga 
asked the real king, " Where is your gift to me? " The 
king gave a haughty answer, saying he had already 
given his gift to the right person, whereupon Bamuroga 
pushed him on the shoulder, saying, " Go and bring my 
present." The king thereupon called his followers and 
left the enclosure in a hurry as if angry. Bamuroga 

Bunyoro—Death, Burial and Succession 203 

then turned to the mock king, saying, *' Let us flee; 
your brother has gone to bring an army," and, taking 
the boy to the back of the throne-room, he strangled 
him. This completed the death ceremonies and the 
subsequent purifications, and the new king could take 
his seat upon the throne and begin his reign. 



A Day in the Life of the King — The New Moon Ceremonies — A 
State trial — The Gods — Auguries — Warfare — Bunyoro To-day — 
Cotton- and Coffee -growing — Possible Native Industries — 
Transport — The Mission at Masindi. 

A DAY in the life of the King of Bunyoro 
brought with it many duties, among which all 
. matters connected with the sacred cows and the 
king's meals, because of their priestly character, took 
first place. With the performance of these ceremonies 
nothing was ever allowed to interfere ; whatever the king 
might be occupied with, it had to give way when the 
time came for the performance of any of the rites 
connected with the cattle and the milk. 

Beyond these, however, the duties of the king were 
many and varied; from dawn of day till late at night 
he was seldom free and got but little rest, and even his 
time for sleep was disturbed and cut short. Until after 
midnight he had to wander about the royal enclosure 
to see that the guard were keeping careful watch, and 
when at last he did retire he was only left in peace for 
about an hour, for at two o'clock he was awakened and 
had to betake himself to a chamber off the throne-room, 
where he spent the rest of the night. Here a young 
woman slept across the foot of his bed, so that his feet 
might rest against her and run no risk of touching the 


Bunyoro — Religion and Development 205 

end of the bed or of being exposed. In the early morn- 
ing the girl got up and anointed the great toes of the 
king before retiring to the women's courtyard. 

The king then rose and passed through the throne- 
room to his bath-room, where two young bulls were sent 
or driven to meet him. One of these had to be all black 
with the exception of a white patch on its forehead, 
while the other was red and black and had also a jvhite 
patch. These bulls were taken from the sacred herd 
and had to be quite young; indeed, when they reached 
the age of one year they were removed and killed and 
fresh ones chosen. They very soon got to know what 
was expected of them, and would find their own way 
to the king's bath-room before being driven out to 
pasture in the morning. The king took the black one 
by the horns and, placing his head against its white 
spot, said, " May all the evils of the night pass from my 
people and my country." Then, taking the red and 
black one in the same way, he said, " May all that is 
good rest upon my people and my country." Thus, as 
priest, he removed any evil that might have come upon 
his subjects during the night and destroyed any magic 
that might have been at work in the hours of darkness, 
so that the people were free to begin the new day 
immune from evil influence. 

In all his ceremonial actions it was evident that the 
king was regarded as being in a very special sense the 
priest of his people and country. He did not merely 
represent his people and his land and act as their inter- 
mediary with the supernatural powers, but he imper- 
sonated them; for instance, by his next movements he 
cleansed and purified them, for fetishes were now hung on 
his person and arranged about him, while his face, hands 

2o6 The Soul of Central Africa 

and feet were washed and his body anointed with scented 
butter. A servant produced a number of bark-cloths, 
from which the king chose the garment he would wear 
for his first public appearance of the day, and, when 
ready, he proceeded to the throne-room and took his 
seat upon the throne, while his subjects flocked to greet 
him and wish him long life. 

This reception continued until the sacred cows came 
to be milked, when the king had to watch the milking, 
and then to retire for his meal. When this was over 
and all the sacred cows had been milked, he turned his 
attention to the problems of government. Every import- 
ant case had to come before the king for judgment; 
even on occasions when a local chief had tried and judged 
a case, it would come sooner or later before the king for 
his confirmation or reversal of the verdict, for his court 
was the final court of appeal from any local jurisdiction. 
The courtyard outside the throne-room soon became 
crowded, and the principal chiefs came into the throne- 
room to give the king the news of the day. Many 
intricate matters, of which the most common concerned 
fines and unpaid debts, had to be settled and political 
matters discussed, and the king was thus occupied until 
the time came to herd the sacred cows. 

This herding of the sacred cows was another priestly 
act which the king had to perform for the good of his 
country. Rising, he passed through the main entrance 
of the throne-room, stepping over the ivory tusk which 
lay outside. This was a kingly prerogative to which not 
even members of the royal family dared aspire. Every- 
one who wished to enter or leave the throne-room, with 
the sole exception of the king, must walk round the 
end of the tusk. As the king proceeded, mats were 




Bunyoro— Religion and Development 207 

spread for him to walk upon, the first stretching from 
the door of the throne-room to that of the queen's 
reception-room. These mats were made of grass-stems 
tied together and rolled up, so that the keeper had only 
to lay a mat down and give it a push for it to unroll 
and lie flat. There were several of these mats which 
were used when the king moved about the royal enclosure 
on his ceremonial duties, and each was rolled up again 
directly he had passed over it. The king passed through 
seven sacred huts, of which the first was the queen's 
reception-room. Each hut had a doorway at the front 
and at the back, and a courtyard divided it from the 
next. The courtyards were also directly connected by 
gates, so that it was possible to go from one end of 
the row to the other without entering the huts. Each 
hut bore the name of a chief of the Sacred Guild, and 
each chief might enter the one which bore his name but 
no other; only the king might walk through them all, 
though he might be accompanied by a page as he did 
so. Each court and each hut was guarded, and the king 
passed along the whole row accompanied by his own 
guard, who, however, went from courtyard to courtyard 
by the gateways, so that they need not enter the sacred 

In one of these courtyards stood a guard holding a 
royal spear, a custom which is worthy of note. This 
spear had to be kept always in an upright position and 
might never on any account be laid down. When the 
king retired at night it was taken to the throne-room, 
where it stood upright in a special stand until the morning 
when the king was ready to take his seat on the throne. 
Then it was taken to the courtyard of this hut, where 
it was held erect by one of the guard. As it must never 

2o8 The Soul of Central Africa 

be laid down, the guard could not go away without 
summoning a companion to hold it during his absence. 
When the king was unwell or unable to be in the throne- 
room, the spear stood there until he returned to resume 
his duties. As the king approached, the man with the 
spear moved to one side to allow him to pass, but did 
not lower the spear. 

When the king reached the last courtyard he found 
three animals awaiting him; one was an old cow whose 
milk had stopped, and which was being fattened for kill- 
ing, another was a calf, and the third a young bull. The 
king looked after these animals in the courtyard for some 
twenty minutes or half an hour daily, thus conferring 
his blessing on all herdsmen throughout the country. 
On his way back he took the same path until he reached 
the throne-room, which he entered by one of the side 
doors. He might then pass through to the dairy and 
drink milk, but as this was not one of his compulsory 
meals no attention was paid to it, and he might drink 
or pass on as he desired. Other matters might now call 
for attention, but as a rule he was free from official duties 
in the throne-room for an hour or two, and was at liberty 
to attend to private matters or to take exercise or 
amuse himself. 

A little before three he had again to take his place 
in the throne-room to partake of his sacred meal of meat, 
and by the time this was finished there would be heard 
the call of the herald as he led the sacred cows home to 
be milked. After that the king was again occupied with 
public business and audiences until the time came for 
him to inspect the guard of the royal enclosure before 
retiring to bed. 

In this country the passage of time during the day 



Bunyoro — Religion and Development 209 

was marked by the position of the sun, and the divisions 
thus marked were named after some incident affect- 
ing the cows, such as time to go to pasture, time 
to be milked, time for them to drink, and so on. It 
was therefore natural that the divisions of the year should 
be calculated by the moon. The year was accordingly 
divided into months, six months bringing the lesser rains, 
and six more the greater rains and the end of the year. 
There was no week, the month being divided into twenty- 
eight days according to the phases of the moon. The 
new moon was always a season for great rejoicing and 
for feasting, in which the common people took part. 

Outside the main entrance to the royal enclosure there 
was a mound which was regularly used as a watch-tower 
for general observation, and upon this the priest took his 
stand when the time came for the appearance of the new 
moon. Round the base of the mound stood the king's 
band of trumpeters, ready to announce to the country 
that the moon was visible. The priest watched until he 
could see the moon, and the way in which his accustomed 
eye distinguished the first faint glimpse of the crescent 
was very remarkable. On its appearance he sent a 
message to the king, who came out to give his blessing 
to the people and land for the new month. The priest 
was then commanded to make known to the country 
that the time of festival had begun. This he did by 
beating several times on a large drum, whereupon the 
band, with a blare of ti*umpets, raised sounds of rejoic- 
ing. At the sound people hurried from all directions, 
and feasting and merrymaking went on in the royal 
enclosure for seven days. During this time there was no 
cessation in the music and dancing ; weary performers 

might creep away one at a time to some corner to sleep, 

210 The Soul of Central Africa 

but no arrangements were made for rest, and they had 
to hasten back to relieve some other tired companion. 
During the night a large fire burned in the courtyard, 
and by its light the drums and trumpets played and the 
dance went on. Only when the sacred meals required 
silence, and when the king enjoined it for a few minutes 
while he performed some special ceremony, did the music 
and noise cease. The king himself had to manage with 
the minimum of sleep, for he had to sit in a conspicuous 
place where his people could come to shout their bless- 
ings upon him while he encouraged them in their dancing 
and rejoicing. 

On one of the seven days there was usually a solemn 
procession to the courtyard of the seventh sacred hut, 
the courtyard where the king herded the cows. On this 
occasion the king gave his decision on any important 
matter, or pronounced judgment on any chief who had 
offended. The pronouncing of sentence on any member 
of the Sacred Guild was a most impressive act, surpassing 
in gravity any of the other ceremonies. Crowds 
gathered outside the throne-room to see the king start 
on his way to the place of judgment, and the royal 
standard-bearers awaited his appearance. The royal 
standards were rather curious. Three of them were 
spears with long leaf -shaped blades, and the fourth was 
an instrument rather like a two-pronged rake, on the 
prongs of which were hung a bag of seeds and a bundle 
of tinder for torch-making. These standards were held 
aloft until the king emerged from the throne-room, when 
the spear-bearers walked backwards before him to the 
door of the first hut, where they lined up to allow him* 
to pass. A chief of the Guild preceded the king, also walk- 
ing backwards. Both he and the king wore their official 



Bunyoro — Religion and Development 211 

robes and the crown with the long beard of monkey- 
skin which marked the member of the Sacred Guild. 
The robe consisted of a large sheet of bark-cloth wrapped 
round the body, and a person dressed in this robe and 
crown presented a most peculiar appearance. 

The first hut through which the king passed was the 
queen's reception-room, and there the queen, with any 
of her sisters who wished to be present at the ceremonies, 
sat to await the king. As he entered they all stood up, 
and he passed slowly along, each in turn, headed by the 
queen, greeting him in silence by placing her right hand 
on his shoulder palm downwards and then turning it 
palm upwards and touching his arm above the elbow 
with the tips of her fingers. He passed in this manner 
thjrough the hut> and so on to the next, which was 
usually empty. His followers passed round the huts and 
did not enter them. 

In the meantime the chiefs of the Sacred Guild 
assembled in their places in the last of the courtyards, 
which they entered by a special gateway. Their entrance 
was carefully guarded, and none but members of the 
Guild could pass the guard. When the king reached this 
last courtyard he took his place under a canopy against 
one of the fences, where a rug was spread for him to 
stand on. The chiefs of the Sacred Guild, each wearing 
his crown, which differed from all the others and was 
the mark of his special ofiice or rank, stood on one side, 
while the culprit to be judged stood apart at the far 
end of the court, awaiting the king's command to come 

When all was ready the king gave the sign for the 
man to be brought before him, and he came forward, 
supported by one of his companions. His nervousness 

212 The Soul of Central Africa 

and terror were often so extreme that he was unable 
to walk alone, and his companion had to hold him up 
to keep his trembling legs from giving way under him. 
He approached the king, who did not employ many words 
to inform the anxious offender of his fate. If the verdict 
was pardon, he extended his two hands together and 
allowed the man to kiss them; if the hands were with- 
held it mattered little what the king said ; he might even 
tell the man he was forgiven and might go free, but if 
he withheld his hands the doom of the culprit was sealed 
and death was sure to follow. Sometimes he sank down 
fainting and was carried off to death, or he was led away 
and speared. The king marched back to the throne-room, 
and the dancing went forward again as if nothing had 

When the seven days were ended the band went to 
the house of the king's mother, and music and dancing 
were resumed there with renewed vigour for one night. 
The people followed the bands, and both here and in 
the royal enclosure meat and beer were supplied to the 
revellers, so that to the people it was a royal feast-time. 
When the night was over they went on to the enclosure 
of the chief medicine-man, who, owing to his position 
of authority in regard to all matters of sickness and 
disease, was one of the greatest men in the country. It 
was he who put an end to the festivities and sent the 
bandsmen to their homes, where they had a respite until 
the next new moon appeared. 

In these countries the period of the waxing moon was 
the most propitious time, and everything beginning then 
would prosper. A child born with the new moon would 
grow and be healthy and fortunate, whereas one born 
when the moon was waning was regarded with misgiving 

Bunyoro — Religion and Development 213 

and sorrow. So if a marriage was to be prosperous it had 
to take place when the moon was new, for it would 
receive additional blessing from that luminary. Peasants 
sowed their seeds and baked their pots, and smiths pre- 
ferred to do any important work, in the time of the new 
moon, because anything done then increased and was 
strong, but the propitious time passed with the waning 
of the full moon. 

The moon was thus not only the divider of the year, 
but was a kind of deity which brought many blessings. 
Mothers would often take their children to the door to 
point out the new moon, believing that the sight of it 
would cause the child to grow. 

In Bunyoro, as in Ankole, the cowman had religious 
feelings and beliefs which meant something to him, 
though they did not call for much in the way of formal 
observance. He believed in certain gods who were super- 
human beings, but, with the exception of the new moon 
festivals, he did not feel it incumbent upon him to pay 
them attention at any stated times. The seasons for his 
offerings were determined by circumstances. When the 
cloud of any threatened calamity, such as war or a cattle- 
raid, appeared on his horizon he felt it was not enough 
merely to prepare to resist the enemy to the utmost of 
his power, but he had to pray to his god and make an 
offering to him, in order to ensure his assistance either 
in thwarting the intentions of the enemy or in overcoming 
hini should he succeed in attacking. Again, should cattle 
disease appear, he had to call on the god for an explana- 
tion of the disease, its cause, and the needful remedies 
before he could make any successful use of drugs or other 
means of cure. 

No temples or permanent shrines were raised to 



214 The Soul of Qentral Africa 

these gods. Though they had priests and mediums, 
these Hved in their own houses and were either consulted 
there or sent for to come and see the person who needed 
their assistance. The priest would then decide by an 
oracle the cause of the mischief, and, if it was seen to 
be the work of a god, offerings would be made to him 
and the priest would pray to him without building any 
shrine. Shrines were built to honour ghosts and were 
not used for the great gods. Some of the gods, how- 
ever, had special dwelling places which were sacred to 
them. Certain mountains, for example, were regarded 
as the residences of particular gods. Some of these have 
precipitous faces fully a hundred feet or more high, 
over which animal and at times human victims were 
hurled as sacrifices to the gods. In other cases the 
mountains are extinct volcanoes and have large craters, 
often containing deep pools into which the victims were 
cast. One of these ,was especially famed, for those 
victims who were favoured by the god were seen either 
the same day or next morning high up on the mountain 
side and still alive. There must be some outlet from the 
crater through the side of the mountain, for its slopes 
are sheer precipices impossible to climb. 

The priests of the more important deities belonged 
to a special priestly clan and their offices were hereditary. 
They claimed to have the sole right to officiate in the 
service of these high gods and looked down upon the 
inferior priests who might be qualified for their office 
by training alone and not by descent. The higher priests 
obtained their knowledge of the wishes of the gods by 
augury of the highest kind : they killed an animal, and 
from the intestines and liver were able to solve their 
problems. At times one of these superior priests might 

/ ■ 1'' 









Bunyoro — Religion and Development 215 

employ one of lower rank to give an oracle by water. 
This priest made seven pots of unbaked clay and, filling 
them with water, washed his hands in them with a lump 
of clay, stirring the water about till the clay made it 
quite muddy. Then he poured a few drops of a certain 
liquid into each pot. At once the water began to clear, 
and the spreading of this clear spot was anxiously 
watched. If it was unbroken and assumed a starlike 
shape the augury was good; but if it broke up into 
irregular clear patches, matters looked threatening. 

The king kept large numbers of goats and fowls for 
the use of the high priest when an augury was necessary. 
The goats were divided into herds and the fowls into 
flocks according to their colour, for the god would 
specify the colour of the animal to be used for each 
augury. The king appointed a head-man over the goats 
and another over the fowls, and these had a number 
of men under them to look after the flocks and herds and 
see that the colours did not get mixed. The head-men 
were responsible for keeping a sufficient number of each 
colour always available, and they went about the country 
looking for the colours they wanted. No owner would 
refuse to give an animal for this purpose, and when it 
was given it was dedicated to the gods and reserved for 
future use in taking auguries. The priest, when an 
augury was wanted, had only to give his order for an 
offering of the necessary colour and it had to be supplied 
at once. 

Though people acknowledged these higher deities 
they seldom approached them or washed to consult them. 
Their everyday needs were sufficiently met by applica- 
tion to ghosts or deified kings, and it was only under 
very special circumstances that the gods of war, thunder, 

2i6 The Soul of Central Africa 

rain and plenty, the higher deities, were invoked. Under 
exceptional circumstances offerings were made and 
honour paid to them until the time of need had passed, 
after which the god might be left undisturbed for a long 
time before his help was sought again. 

The nation was not really aggressive and no regular 
army was maintained. It was only when some adjacent 
nation encroached on their territory, or when a favour- 
able opportunity for cattle-raiding tempted them, that 
an army would be raised. At such times the king, before 
taking any steps, would inquire of the god of war, through 
his own priest, whether it was advisable to make the 
expedition and who should lead his forces. 

Raids by border chiefs into other countries were the 
most common cause of disturbance. Some small chief 
of a border district might see a fine herd of cows over 
the border which seemed insufficiently protected, where- 
upon he would swoop down upon them and carry them 
off. Immediately the nation of the wronged man would 
rise to his assistance and a regular expedition would be 
sent against the aggressor. Such an expedition did not 
take long to prepare, a few hours sufficing to raise and 
dispatch the army. The robber chief would in the mean- 
time gather some men together to protect his own land 
while he drove away the raided cattle to some distant 
part. Then the king's help would be sought and, as he, 
the owner of all cattle, would be the real person to 
profit by the raid, an army, if the god approved, would 
be raised and sent to prevent the rescue of the looted 

The army which gathered together in such circum- 
stances was merely a mob of men eager for excitement 
and hoping for the chance of loot and plunder, either in 

Bunyoro— Religion and Development 217 

their own country or in that of the enemy. For arms 
most bore only spears and shields, while many of the 
peasants carried only one spear, but supplemented it by 
a large club. The leader had some power over the 
under-chief s and those who were his own men, but he 
had no direct influence over the bulk of his army and was 
forced to rely upon the under-chiefs to get his orders 
carried out. The peasants who formed the main body 
of the army were kept in subjection more by the fear of 
the god through whose oracle the expedition had been 
commanded than by respect for their chiefs. 

In such battles there was never any order or method 
of fighting, and the bravery of one or two would do more 
to settle the fortunes of the day than any concerted attack 
I or regular plan of battle. One bold spirit would rush 
I out and spear down one of the enemy, causing, by the 
suddenness of the assault, some confusion and falling back 
among the hostile forces, whereupon his companions 
would rush forward against the wavering crowd and win a 
rapid victory. Now and again one side would gain the 
advantage through some appearance of strategy, which, 
however, was usually to be attributed to chance and not 
to any careful consideration of plans of battle. Unless 
some such accident occurred, there was seldom much 
difference between the two sides, and when three or four 
combatants had fallen and a few had been wounded there 
would be a mutual desire to come to terms. 

There was an interesting custom which well shows 
the native belief in the all-conquering power of magic. 
When an invading army was reported to be approaching, 
the medicine-man, taking with him a blind cow or sheep 
and a dog, went to the road along which the enemy 
was advancing. After reciting incantations over the 

2i8 The Soul of Central Africa 

animals he maimed or killed them and either left the 
bodies lying or buried them in the path along which the 
enemy must come. The effect of this was to strike the 
invading army with blindness, and in their confusion they 
were easily overcome and routed. Such magic-working 
certainly often had the desired effect, for, believing that 
the invaders were blind and helpless, the inhabitants 
would attack with such vigour and courage that victory 
was assured. 

Bunyoro is the country that the earliest explorers 
visited when seeking to solve the problems of the Nile. 
It was here that Speke and Grant met Sir Samuel Baker 
when he was on his way to discover and survey Lake 
Albert. In these early days the country was rich in 
people and cattle, but now it is impoverished, largely 
owing to the long wars of Kabarega's time. The popu- 
lation was then much scattered, and it has been further 
diminished since the British occupation by the emigration 
of many who wished to escape state labour and the hut 
tax. There are few large herds left, for the great herds 
of the king were taken over the Nile into the Teso country 
during the wanderings of Kabarega and never came back 
again. Those w^hich were not killed for food were 
probably appropriated by local chiefs. 

A few coffee planters have settled in the country, and 
are finding that they can grow good crops with little 
trouble, but the industry is yet in its infancy, and the 
planters are only now beginning to meet the difficulties 
which time is bound to bring ; they will have to learn by 
experience how to cope with the diseases to which the 
trees are subject in a new country. Up to the present 
they seem to be prospering and have secured good crops, 
but in most cases the planters have a very limited know- 



Bunyoro — Religion and Development 219 

ledge of their business, and there seems no hope of their 
learning otherwise than by painful experience, for they 
have no books to consult and no instructors who couW 
correct their errors and advise them as to the necessary 
steps to be taken to keep the trees up to a profitable 

Cotton is being grown with fair success, and its 
cultivation is mainly in the hands of the natives, who, 
though their methods might be improved by education, 
manage to make their crops pay. They told me, how- 
ever, that they were restricted in their dealings, the 
only market permitted to them being through the 
planters of the district, who bought up all the native 
cotton. The natives had to sell their produce in certain 
definite places and at a price fixed by the buyers. They 
assured me that they could get better prices at other 
centres, but that they ,were, for some reason, prevented 
from taking their goods there. This matter seems to 
call for investigation by the administrative service in 
order that it may be put right. 

The natives ought to be encouraged in every possible 
way, for it is on them that the future of the country 
depends. The European settler is a valuable asset, but 
his value is enormously increased if he goes out with the 
intention of helping the native to help himself. The 
European in such a climate is, of necessity, but a bird of 
passage, and while settled there can accomplish only a 
limited amount of work, whereas the native is indigenous 
to the soil and has not to contend with climatic diflBculties. 
Therefore the most valuable colonist is he whose work 
tends to make the native not only self-supporting, but 
a source of benefit to the outside world. This is possible, 
for there are many industries already to some extent in 

220 The Soul of Central Africa 

existence which might easily be made profitable to the 
isvorld in general. In the lake region, with all its pastoral 
tribes, it seems strange that no commercial cattle-rearing 
has been undertaken and that no tinning and preserving 
factories for meat, butter, cheese and milk have been 
opened. Such industries would pay if once the natives 
learned what was necessary for export trade and were 
shown the best methods to adopt. As it is, no attempt 
has been made to teach these men anything about the 
different kinds of cows and their milk-giving qualities, 
and they know nothing of breeding for market. As for 
butter, the idea of this as a marketable commodity has 
never been brought before them, and they have no 
notion of cheese-making. As the commercial value of 
these products does not seem to have been investigated, 
the members of the pastoral clans — who are quite com- 
petent for cattle-rearing and dairy work — are being 
forced to undertake agricultural work which is not only 
entirely distasteful to them, but is contrary to all their 
inherited instincts and is considered by them to be 
injurious to the well-being of their cows. 

Since the British occupation roads have been built 
over many parts of the country, even to the most 
out-of-the-way places, and it is possible during the dry 
season to travel long distances by motor. There is even 
a regular service of motors between Lakes Albert and 
Kioga, where in earlier times the paths were merely 
cattle tracks, made by the herds in their movements from 
place to place. A splendid metalled road now runs 
between the two lakes, and native workmen, under 
European supervision, are employed in working the 
steam roller and in repairing the road. The motor vans 
are also managed by African lads, many of whom learned 

Bunyoro — Religion and Development 221 

their trade during the war. They are said to be steady 
and reliable youths who are well worth the trouble of 
training. The motor service is connected by the steam- 
boat on Lake Albert with the Belgian Congo and by 
that on Lake Kioga with the railway through Busoga to 
Jinja on Lake Victoria, and so to Mombasa. This is the 
route taken by visitors journeying from Mombasa to 
Khartoum and Cairo. It leaves still about one hundred 
miles, between Lake Albert and Rejaf, to be undertaken 
on foot, which for the ordinary tourist forms rather a 
diflBculty, but even this could with comparative ease be 
made a motor road. This strip of country is under the 
Sudan Government, which took it over from the Uganda 
Protectorate some years ago. It is the worst of any of 
the recognized routes which I traversed during the expe- 
dition. There is even no telegraphic connexion between 
this district and Uganda, an improvement which might 
easily be carried out and would be of untold value to 
both Governments in their dealings with their out- 

The advance so far made has opened up this part 
of the Protectorate for trading purposes, but cotton and 
coffee are at present the only products of which the 
cultivation is attempted. Unfortunately, the district 
round Masindi (the capital) is the worst in the country 
for this purpose, and the places where cotton- and coffee- 
growing is proving successful are generally at some 
distance from the regular motor route, which passes 
through the capital. 

There is at Masindi a mission station which has an 
excellent industrial branch attached to it. Here some 
of the best cabinet work of which Uganda can boast is 
turned out. The station belongs to the Church 

222 The Soul of Central Africa 

Missionary Society, and such good progress has been 
made that tables, chairs, and sofas are supplied from this 
centre to most parts of the Protectorate. The lads are 
trained to work the native timber which they cut for 
themselves in the forests. There is also a school attached 
to this mission, but, owing to the lack of properly trained 
men as teachers, it is not so well worked as the technical 

As a Christian nation the Banyoro are, with the 
exception of the Baganda, the most advanced in this part 
of Africa. They belong to the church of Uganda, but 
they are able to support their own few native pastors 
and teachers. The standard of training of these native 
pastors is, however, low, and might be raised with much 
profit to the community. Another drawback is that the 
native pastors are chiefly drawn from the lower classes — 
that is, from the agricultural people, and they cannot 
easily gain admission among the Bahuma, or upper 
class, who despise them. Men of the latter class admitted 
that they would pay more attention to pastors and 
teachers drawn from their own ranks. 

Another difficulty which now appears is one which I 
foresaw years ago when I was attached to the mission 
at Kampala ; that is, that the training of the secular 
teachers and sons of chiefs is better than that offered 
to the native pastors, who, being of the poorer class, are 
unable to pay for the education given in the higher 
schools. This is not without its effect on the youths who 
are being educated in these secular schools and who show 
a tendency to regard their religious pastors and teachers 
with feelings of superiority. I fully realize that this is 
not the spirit we should hope to find in a Christian com- 
munity, but human nature is much the same all the world 

Bunyoro — Religion and Development 223 

over, and here, where the natives are still only just 
emerging from barbarism, it behoves the Christian Church 
to see that her pastors are not inferior in education and 
training to the men they are expected to lead. Here 
it is exceptionally easy for the native mind to draw false 
inferences, for the superior secular schools and those which 
give the inferior religious training are under the control 
and management of the same mission ! 



Hoima — Lions — Cultivation — The Graphite Mine — Kibero — Lake 
Kioga — Journey to Lake Salisbury — Teso Country — Journey 
to Mount Elgon — Mbale — Starting Work among the Bagesu. 

I SPENT about five months in Bunyoro, and by the 
end of that time I began to feel that both the 
language and the life of the natives were becoming 
really familiar to me. It was a busy time, though most 
of it was spent in Masindi and I had little travelling 
about to do. In Masindi my days w^ere well filled, for 
the men from whom I got my information came for four 
or five hours daily, and after they had gone I had to write 
up and arrange my notes of the information I had elicited. 
For a few weeks I wandered about the country visiting 
various places of interest, getting photographs, and con- 
firming the information which I had collected. The 
king, or Mukama, as he is called, invited me to his old 
capital at Hoima, some thirty-five miles from Masindi 
where he now lives in order to be near the Government 
headquarters. Masindi was chosen by the British Govern- 
ment for their station because it lies on the route to Lakes 
Albert and Kioga and to Buganda. 

At Hoima I spent a most interesting month, for here 
are to be seen fetishes, ornaments, and weapons which 
tell of the olden days and of the past glory of the kings. 

Here too I had an exceptional opportunity of seeing old 


Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 225 

times brought, as it were, to life again, for the king was 
good enough to arrange and carry out for my benefit a 
week's pageant, so that I was able to follow the milk 
customs and the new moon ceremonies as they were 
actually performed. It was an interesting experience 
and also most valuable, for it made clear to me much 
of the information I had collected during the previous 
weeks at Masindi and enabled me to understand many 
difficult points. The interest and helpfulness of the king 
did not stop here, for I visited him daily for some time 
after this, and he explained to me what I had seen and 
answered all my questions with the utmost frankness 
and openness. He came several times to dine with me, 
and showed himself quite familiar with our Western table 
manners and customs. He no longer adheres to the milk 
regulations, but has adopted English habits of life. 

From Hoima I made excursions to one or two places 
which of old were of much importance in the life of the 
people. One of these was the rain-makers' temple, which 
was well worth a visit for its own sake as well as for its 
ceremonial interest. This beautiful glade lying in the 
midst of the great dark forest was well adapted to add 
mystery and solemnity to a ceremony which in itself 
lacked neither element and to heighten its effect on the 
imaginations of the people. The king supplied me with 
a guide for the forest paths, which as a rule are so over- 
grown as to be almost invisible to a stranger. A report, 
however, had gone abroad before my visit that the king 
was coming to the place, and the path had been cleared. 

During my time at Hoima there were lions about, 
and one of my attendants met one face to face on the 
road in the early morning. He had to take refuge in a 
house and remain there for some time before he could 

226 The Soul of Central Africa 

proceed on his way. The next morning the beast carried 
off an elderly woman while she was on her way from 
her house to her field. On receipt of this news the king 
sent out a hunting party to track the lion, but the only 
trace which could be found was the skull and one thigh- 
bone of the unfortunate woman. I neither saw nor heard 
anything of this lion, though it was in hiding as I went 
to the rain-makers' place, and I must have cycled, with 
my one attendant, past its lair. Early on the morning 
after, however, I was awakened by cries near my camp, 
and, thinking it was another woman in distress, I 
hurriedly got up. Then I heard the call of the king's 
police, and, knowing they were on the alert, I went back 
to bed feeling that my assistance w^ould be superfluous. 
The noise continued, and I was puzzled by the fact that 
cries came first from one direction and then from another. 
It is not the usual custom for the people to make a noise 
when there are lions about, and I was at a loss for an 
explanation until I heard in the morning that there had 
been several lions wandering around, trying to enter 
various places. The king's cow kraal had been an object 
of special attention, and two lions had marched round 
and round for a long time seeking an unguarded entrance. 
Others had made futile efforts to enter some of the native 
huts. One sat somewhere near me for fully three hours, 
purring happily and roaring from time to time, much to 
the disquietude of the people in the surrounding huts, 
who fully expected the unwanted visitor to walk in upon 
them at any moment. For several days these lions 
remained in the neighbourhood before they took them- 
selves off to some new hunting ground. 

Lions are not as a rule in the habit of staying so long 
near human habitations, but this was one of the districts 

Lake Kioga—Teso Country— Mount Elgon 227 

where rinderpest had carried off many pigs and other 
wild animals. The lions were thus short of food, and 
not only haunted the villages by night, but even attacked 
stray people during the day, so that the women were 
unwilling to go alone to their fields to work. 

It is the women in this country who own the fields 
and do all the ordinary work of digging and attending 
to the crops. They turn the soil with short-handled 
hoes, with which they dig to a depth of eight or ten 
inches, drawing the earth towards them and throwing it 
round their feet as they advance. They generally begin 
their work on the fields at dawn and cease about ten 
o'clock, when they gather a bundle of firewood and go 
home to cook their midday meal, though the principal 
meal of the day is in the evening. They work the same 
land year after year without any attempt to fertilize it, 
but when, after four or five years, the crops show signs 
of deterioration, that field will be left to lie fallow for two 
or three years and new ground will be broken up. In 
this work the husbands help by cutting down the trees 
and scrub and clearing the ground for their wives to dig. 

I had been at Hoima some weeks when an epidemic 
of influenza broke out, and the disease assumed a very 
virulent form. Numbers of people were carried off in a 
few days and there were several deaths in the royal house- 
hold. The king's daughters, and then the king himself, 
were attacked. This put an end for the time to the work 
I was doing with the personal assistance of the king, so 
w^hen I had put my notes in order I determined to take 
a tour through the country and come back to Masindi 
later, when I hoped the king would have recovered and 
returned to his home there, so that we could resume our 
work and complete it. 

228 The Soul of Central Africa 

The route I chose led me to the salt-works at Kibero, 
passing on the way the graphite mine from which the 
material for polishing the royal pots was obtained. It 
was the time of the rains, and travelling was very 
unpleasant. The mud on the roads was so deep and soft 
that it clogged the wheels of my bicycle until they could 
not move in the forks, and I had to carry the machine 
frequently for long distances in the hot sun, taking 
advantage of every bit of hard ground to ride and rest. 

The graphite mine was interesting, not only in itself, 
but because of the extraordinary number of bats which 
have taken up their abode in the cave and at the mouth 
of the working. When we took a light into the shaft 
these creatures appeared literally by the hundred and 
fluttered round us, striking our faces, getting caught in 
our hats, and proving generally most annoying. I could 
distinguish three kinds, and they varied from quite a large 
size to the small insect-eating species which has such an 
offensive smell. 

The opening of the shaft to the working is so small 
that we had to enter on our hands and knees, though 
after a few yards we could rise and walk along the shaft, 
which is dug on the level and runs about twenty-five yards 
straight into the hill. The vein appeared to be quite four 
feet thick, and might be even thicker, but as I had no 
means of testing this I had to be satisfied with a rough 
estimate from appearances. It is from this place that 
the king's potters have for many years obtained graphite 
for polishing the pots intended for the use of the king 
and the better class people. 

The path to the mine was through tall grass, and 
would have been impossible to follow without the services 
of a guide who knew the place. As we were going along 

Lake Kioga—Teso Country —Mount Elgon 229 

I noticed the man in front of me suddenly jump aside, 
and, looking down, I saw two small rings of plantain 
fibre lying on the path. I made no remark, but walked 
on and watched the boys who were following to see what 
effect the rings would have on them. Every one of them 
turned aside to avoid treading on or stepping over them. 
I then remarked casually to the leader, " Someone is 
working magic here," to which he replied, "Yes; mis- 
fortune is lying in wait for someone." As we passed the 
spot on our return I Ufted up the rings of fibre with my 
walking-stick and put them in my pocket, greatly to the 
consternation of the men. The things had been laid there 
,with the express purpose of bringing ill-luck on anyone 
who even stepped over them, so to touch them would 
certainly be fatal. 

The morning of my entry into the district where the 
salt-works are situated was dull and there had been rain 
through the night. The road along which I had to pass 
ran between grass so tall that it hung over me even 
.when I mounted my bicycle, and in a short time I was 
wet through from the steady dripping and from pushing 
through the soaked grass. To add to my discomfort I 
had to carry the bicycle nearly a mile through slush and 
mud before I reached the top of the hill leading down 
to the salt-works. From the summit I seemed to look 
right down upon the village on the shores of the lake, 
and could distinguish people moving about, though they 
looked like black specks far below. The gradient was 
much too steep and rough to ride or even to lead the 
bicycle, and I realized that I must either carry it myself 
or wait for the boys to come up. It ,was not tempting 
to sit still in my wet clothes, so I shouldered the machine 
and began the descent, hoping that the boys would catch 

230 The Soul of Central Africa 

me up before I had gone very far. However, they did 
not appear — indeed, they were half an hour later than 
myself in reaching the village; and, after all, I found 
no serious difficulty in getting down, for the slope was^ 
not nearly so steep as some we had had to negotiate. 

Between the hill and the lake there is a fairly level 
strip about a mile in width, and here the huts of the salt 
workers are built. They lie so low that a rise of a few 
feet in the lake will flood them. This has sometimes 
happened, for after heavy rains the water cannot get 
away quickly enough to regain its ordinary level. The 
people appeared to me to number between two and three 
hundred, but I was informed that there are really more, 
though some of them were away at the time of my visit. 
They have a school for the children, under a native 
teacher, who, in addition to imparting elementary 
knowledge, is able to conduct Christian services on 

My stay at Kibero was not a long one, for, on the 
second day after my arrival, the steamer Sir Samuel 
Baker appeared, and I deemed it advisable to take a 
passage in her to Butiaba, and from there go by the motor 
lorry back to Masindi. I had been warned that the path 
along the lake-shore to Butiaba from Kibero was difficult 
and unpleasant owing to the swamps formed by streams 
running into the lake. There was no other road back to 
Masindi, nor any means of getting a conveyance unless I 
returned by the way I had come — through Hoima — and 
I did not wish either to do this or to waste time by 
travelling the whole distance across country with porters. 

Before embarking, however, I witnessed the first part 
of the funeral ceremonies of a boy who had died of 
dysentery. I heard the mourning and saw the beginning 

Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 231 

of the preparations for burial, though I had to go on board 
before the actual interment took place. It was quite 
pathetic to listen to the mournful wailing and calling to 
the youth to return ; at intervals the noise would die down 
to moaning while some part of the preparation cere- 
monies was performed, then it .would break out with 
renewed vigour and go on for some time without a 

The voyage from Kibero took five hours, and I was 
able to go ashore at Butiaba and pitch my tent for the 
night near the custom-house. During the night there was 
heavy rain, but I slept comfortably in my tent under a 
mosquito net. The poor boys, however, had a miserable 
time, for mosquitoes kept them awake in the hut in which 
they were quartered. In ordinary circumstances they 
could have smoked them out, but here there was no fire- 
wood to be obtained, and they had to leave the hut and 
sit on the little veranda outside till daylight. A few days 
later they were laid up with malaria, which kept them 
from work for two or three days. 

From Butiaba I travelled by the motor van, reaching 
Masindi the day after I left Kibero. I now felt I was 
nearing the end of my work in Bunyoro, though there 
were still some matters in which I desired to have the 
assistance of the king. I found, however, that he was 
still ill and had not yet returned from Hoima. He 
arrived a few days later, and went at once to an important 
meeting at the Government station, with the result that 
he had a serious relapse and was laid up again for weeks. 
On two or three occasions I visited him and saw him in 
bed, but he was not in a condition to give me the required 
assistance, so 5 as my time was fast passing and there were 
still important places unvisited and much work to be done. 

232 The Soul of Central Africa 

I determined to go on farther and finish my work with 
him on my return. 

A week was occupied in preparing the loads which it 
was necessary to take with me and in packing and sending 
off goods for England. I then took leave of my friends 
in Bunyoro and set out again for the unknown, a step 
which I always find somewhat trying and which requires 
a little summoning up of my courage. The motor van 
took me to Lake Kioga, a four hours' journey, on which 
I was accompanied by the Provincial Commissioner, him- 
self an old friend and the son of an old friend at Cam- 
bridge, Dr. Haddon, of Christ's College. Mr. Haddon 
came to the lake and spent a short time on board the 
boat with me before he left to return to his duties in 
the capital. 

The ship was one with a flat bottom, drawing only a 
few inches of water, and thus suitable for navigating the 
shallow parts of the lake. She worked with a stern wheel, 
and pushed before her a number of lighters on which the 
luggage and the cargo were loaded, the ship herself carry- 
ing only passengers and fuel for her engines. When I 
joined her there was only one other passenger on board, 
but later in the evening we picked up two geologists, Mr. 
Marshall Hall and Mr. Frame, who were examining the 
rock formations and had been moving about the lake in 
a large canoe. We arrived at the place where we were 
to meet them sooner than they expected us, and we thus 
had to wait while they packed and made their way down 
through a deep belt of papyrus to their canoe on the lake 
in order to tranship their goods. Mr. Marshall Hall, a 
geologist of wide and varied knowledge, was engaged on 
oil research, and intended proceeding direct to a new 
sphere of work. However, the day after he came on 



Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 233 

board he found himself incapacitated by an attack of 
rheumatism, and had to be taken to one of the Govern- 
ment stations to undergo treatment. 

I spent two nights on board the ship on the way to 
Soroti, seeing several places of interest on the lake as we 
went along. This Lake Kioga was not known until 
Major, now General Sir Ronald, Macdonald, the famous 
engineer who surveyed the Uganda Railway, hearing that 
it was much larger than was at that time generally sup- 
posed, sent one of his men to make a survey of it. Before 
that it was thought to be merely a slight broadening of 
the Nile, whereas it forms a large open expanse of water 
and has arms reaching far into some of the countries 
along its shores. Two or three ships are now employed 
on it carrying produce from the planters who have settled 
round about, especially in the Teso country, and who 
trade in cotton and other goods which they buy from 
the natives. 

I was anxious to catch a glimpse of the Bakene, whose 
mode of living in huts built on floating masses of papyrus 
I had seen and hastily examined some years ago. How- 
ever, as we made our way along the lake I saw no signs 
of them, though I was told that they were still to be found 
along some of the arms and in the more isolated parts 
of the lake. This was a disappointment, as I had been 
looking forward to the opportunity of adding to the 
information I had previously obtained about them. 

The scenery of Lake Kioga is not so fine as that of 
Lake Albert and much inferior to that of Lake Victoria ; 
still there was much of interest, especially in its many 
far-reaching arms, along which the boat had to wind her 
way in narrow channels through thickly growing papyrus 
and grass. The land on either side does not rise so 

234 The Soul of Central Africa 

rapidly as the shores of the other lakes ; indeed, in some 
parts the plains stretch for miles, and the gentle slopes 
between the distant hills and the shore are in many 
places cultivated by the natives to the water's edge. 

At noon on the second day of sailing, a Sunday, we 
arrived at Soroti, and I had to leave at once and set out 
for the Government station which is about four miles 
from the lake. I found Mr. Busted, the Assistant District 
Commissioner, at home and was most kindly entertained 
by him during the two days I spent there. I had hoped 
to make this my starting-point for Karamojo and from 
there to go on to visit the Galla people living along the 
boundaries of Abyssinia. My plans, however, were 
frustrated owing to disturbances among the Karamojo 
people, who were being attacked by the Turkana. Soroti 
was the centre of military operations, and, when I saw 
the officer in charge of the forwarding department, I 
learned that it would not be possible for me to go into 
the country with porters unless accompanied by an armed 
force of police. I explained that such conditions rendered 
my work quite impossible, and after some delay I decided 
to write to the officer in command for his advice. Waiting 
for his reply would have involved much waste of time, so, 
leaving an address where I could receive his answer, L 
set off for Lake Salisbury, where, as I was informed, 
some of the Bakene lake-dwellers were to be found. 

The Teso country, through which I now had to pass, 
is entirely different from the Bunyoro side, for it is flat, 
with rocky hillocks dotted about, the grass is short, and 
the few trees to be seen are stunted and yield poor timber. 
The people also are quite different in language and 
appearance, for the tribes here belong to what are 
commonly called the Nilotic races. Both men and women 

Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 235 

go about nude, the men without even an attempt at 
clothing, while the women's attire, where there is any, 
consists of small aprons of beads or string fringes four 
inches wide and six inches long. Their chief delight is 
in .wearing ornaments. The young women love to have 
rings upon their fingers and toes and also upon their 
bodies in the most unexpected places. I have seen them 
with numbers of small brass rings threaded through holes 
in the flesh across their chests, round the edges of their 
ears, and even in some cases through the tips of their 
tongues. All the rings, bracelets and anklets are roughly 
made and the workmanship is crude and unfinished ; the 
most welcome gift or article for barter is wire with which 
to make these ornaments. 

The men are a strong-looking race, of good height, 
averaging about five feet seven, while the women are 
generally but little shorter. I found them to be of a 
happy disposition, and I never had any trouble as I 
travelled on to Lake Salisbury and from there to Mount 
Elgon, for men came forward readily every day to carry 
my loads. It was a strange sight to see these nude men 
carrying my European boxes and loads and dancing along 
the paths singing happily, apparently as care-free as 
children. What value the few coins they received as 
payment had for them I fail to understand, for they have 
no need to purchase clothing and they grow their own 
food. The only use they could have for money was to 
pay their taxes. 

This is one of the chief cotton-growing districts, 
and I found single fields extending over several miles. 
There is a cotton company at Soroti who plough large 
tracts of land with motor ploughs and then let the 
ploughed land out to natives who sow it with cotton. 

236 The Soul of Central Africa 

paying the company for the work done with a certain 
proportion of their crop. The surplus grown they sell to 
the planters for payment in Indian currency, rupees and 
cents, but, as in the case of the porters and their payment, 
the only use they seem to have for cash is for the payment 
of taxes. Until they have learned the use of articles 
which they cannot produce for themselves and have been 
educated up to the standard of Western requirements, the 
payment offered by the planters is of no real value to 
them and offers no inducement to them to work. 

For their own consumption the people grow millet, 
maize, and sweet potato. They live in small villages which 
they encircle with growing fences of cactus or euphorbia. 
Owing to the dryness of the land wood is scarce and 
poor, and, as the people do not care to bring it from long 
distances, they build their bee-hive huts to the best of 
their ability with the frailest of timber. They keep both 
cows and goats, though they are not a pastoral people. 
There is no chief of any general power among them, but 
each small section or village owns its own headman, while, 
if matters of dispute arise, the aim of everyone is to 
avoid, if possible, any appeal to force, and all the members 
of the community assist in the endeavour to come to 
terms. No attempt has ever been made to improve 
either the country or the social life of the people, so that 
we have a state of things jvhich must have existed for 
hundreds of years without alteration or improvement. 
The information I obtained was, however, limited, as I 
was moving rapidly from camp to camp, never staying 
more than a night in any one place, so that by the time 
I had found someone who knew a language I under- 
stood there was little time left for more than superficial 

Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 237 

On reaching the camp near Lake Salisbury I found 
that there the lake-dwellers had forsaken their old 
methods of life and had come to live on shore, for under 
a more organized government the constant fear of attack 
and robbery, which had made them take to life on the 
papyrus-islands, had vanished. Both men and women 
now gave more time to agricultural pursuits, though 
they still made fishing excursions on the lake. 

A striking feature of the district was the settlement 
at various points along the route of Indian traders, who 
were either simply cotton buyers or had small factories 
for ginning cotton and pressing it into bales for shipment 
to Mombasa, The requests I received from these settlers 
at various points for certain medicines gave me the im- 
pression that these men are propagators of venereal 
diseases and that we shall have to reap hereafter a terrible 
harvest from the seed they are sowing. 

As my endeavours to inquire further into the lives 
of the lake-dwellers were foiled again on Lake Salisbury, 
and as I learned that some special initiation ceremonies 
were about to be performed on Mount Elgon, I decided 
to make a hurried march thither and try to see them. 
I was specially anxious to see these ceremonies because, 
in addition to their value to science, I should then be able 
to put before missionaries the actual facts concerning 
matters which have proved an almost insuperable barrier 
to all efforts to evangelize the mountain tribe known as 
the Bagesu. My informant concerning the approaching 
ceremonies was a man who, hearing of my presence in 
the Teso country, came to see who I was. I discovered 
4:hat he had been a pupil of mine many years ago in the 
theological school at Kampala in Buganda. It was not 
only of personal interest, but from a missionary point of 

238 The Soul of Central Africa 

view it was most encouraging to find, so many years later, 
such men, far removed from European influence and 
help, carrying the Gospel to heathen like the Teso people. 
There were, I found, two of them working in that region, 
and I managed to see both and gained from them much 
valuable information concerning the people among whom 
they were labouring. 

From Lake Salisbury I made forced marches to 
Mount Elgon in order not to miss the ceremonies. Each 
day I rose before daylight, found men to carry my loads 
for the first stage, and rode off as soon as it was light 
enough to see. When I had gone half the day's journey 
I sought out one of the chiefs, and through him arranged 
for another relay of men to be ready on the road to take 
over the packages directly the first lot of men arrived. 
Each set of porters carried my packages on an average 
ten miles, when they were relieved by the men waiting 
for them. The first then received their pay and returned 
home, leaving the next relay of men to carry the goods 
forward. This system of porterage has been introduced 
since the British Government has been ruling the outlying 
districts; it answers well on the whole and relieves the 
traveller of the responsibility of feeding his men. 
Having secured the second relay I was able to go for- 
ward to the place I had chosen for camping and wait for 
the porters to come in. 

The boy I had engaged for the special purpose of 
drying medicinal herbs and obtaining specimens of native 
drugs was the person who should have looked after my 
goods, but he was the most incapable and incompetent 
fellow that could well be imagined. Fortunately my 
cook was very different, and I came to rely on him for 
all these matters. Each day he managed to see that all 

Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 239 

went well with the porters and the loads, and yet he 
was always in camp with the first of the goods, ready to 
attend to my needs. The boy who should have been 
engaging the carriers had heard such tales of the treatment 
meted out by the Teso porters to unpopular headmen that 
he began to be afraid for his life, would have nothing to 
do with them, and refused any responsibility with regard 
to my goods. My cook had to undertake all the arrange- 
ments and report to me on his arrival at the camp. 

Only once, at my last camp, did trouble arise either 
with or among the carriers. Fortunately one of the 
Baganda teachers was at the camp, and he took the matter 
straight to the chief of the place without allowing the 
men to apply to me, so that the difficulty was settled 
without coming under my notice at all. I did not even 
know there had been any trouble until I asked later what 
the noise had been about. 

The tracks through the Teso country are generally 
smooth and there are few hills, so that I could cycle mile 
after mile without any great exertion, but the last stage 
before reaching Elgon was the worst I had experienced 
since leaving Soroti. The earth was very black and 
heavy, with a good deal of clay in it, and had been soaked 
with rain some days before. Oxen passing over it had 
churned it into pits and mounds, and the sun had then 
come out and baked it hard, making it out of the question 
in many parts to attempt to cycle. I had therefore to 
walk frequently until the path began to rise at the foot 
of Elgon, when it became possible to mount again and 
ride to the Government station at Mbale. 

My intention had been to take up my abode with an 
old friend, a Muganda chief, who had been living in this 
district for some years and with whom I had on a former 

240 The Soul of Central Africa 

occasion spent a few days. However, on reaching his 
enclosure I learned that he was moving to a new home 
three miles away. I determined, therefore, to go and 
see the Government Commissioner and inform him of 
my arrival before going on to my native friend. It was 
a little after eight o'clock in the morning when I reached 
the Government station, and I had travelled, on the 
bicycle or on foot, some twenty-two or twenty-three 
miles. The Commissioner was most kindly anxious that 
I should stay as his guest, and I was divided in my mind 
as to the best course to pursue. The thought of staying 
in a nice house amid the comforts of comparative civiliza- 
tion was certainly tempting, while the alternative was 
that of living in my tent in native quarters ; but I felt 
that my work would benefit by my living under the less 
pleasant conditions, for if I were lodged in native quarters 
I should come into closer contact with the people I wished 
to examine. However, the question was decided for me, 
for at ten o'clock the Commissioner came back from his 
office suffering from an attack of fever and brought with 
him the very chief I wanted to see. I realized that my 
new friend would recover much more rapidly without the 
responsibility of a strange guest in his house, so I told 
the chief I would settle at his new home and carry on 
my work there for the next few weeks. He sent out 
men to stop my loads and divert them to his own com- 
pound, and when I arrived at noon I found my goods 
there and the tent being pitched. The tent formed my 
bedroom, and I soon made a shed into a fairly comfort- 
able room for work and began investigations on a new 
and interesting people. 

Years ago I had visited these Bagesu and learned a 
little about their habits and customs, but that visit was 

Lake Kioga— Teso Country— Mount Elgon 241 

only a short one and I was unable to travel about owing 
to the very unsettled state of the country. The twelve 
years which had elapsed had made a great diflference in 
the country and in Mbale itself, which is now quite a 
small town where a number of Indian traders have settled. 
There are shops, some with European provisions, and 
stores from which can be procured almost any commodity 
required by natives or even by settlers, and good roads 
are in course of construction. The Government station 
is well planned, and the houses, built of brick with roofs 
of corrugated iron, are said to be mosquito proof. There 
was a fairly large staff at the time of my visit, though, 
as I soon left for my new quarters, it was several days 
before I saw most of the officials. 

My new camp was on the slope of that part of Mount 
Elgon known among the people as "Koko," or, as the 
Baganda element there call it, *'Koko Njero " (*' the 
white fowl "). I do not know the reason for this name, 
and it is not used by the older inhabitants. My host was 
most helpful, and it was not long before I got to work 
with some of the older men whom he sent to me. 



Kakungulu — The Bagesu — Marriage — Enmity between Clans — Har- 
vest Festival — Possession of Land — Domestic Animals — Gods and 
Ghosts — Children — Preparing Girls for Marriage — Initiation Cere- 
mony for Youths — Treatment of Rain-makers — Disposal of the 
Dead — Ceremonial Cannibalism — The Ghosts. 

THE chief in whose enclosure I settled for the 
purpose of carrying on my researches among the 
wild tribes of the mountain is known as Kakungulu. 
He is a member of the royal family of Koki, a district 
which, since the formation of the Protectorate, has 
become part of Buganda, but which was originally a small 
independent state lying south of Ankole and south-west 
of Buganda. The people belong to the pastoral tribes; 
indeed they are an offshoot of the group which settled 
in the district of Ankole. 

Many years ago Kakungulu was forced by political 
reasons and the jealousy of his king to leave his home 
and country. He entered Buganda about the end of 
Mutesa's reign and, during the reign of the next king, 
Mwanga, he rose to a high position. He was a dauntless 
and successful elephant-hunter and was employed in this 
capacity by Mwanga. During the early commotions and 
civil wars of the reign he was able to make Mwanga 
valuable presents at a time when that king was in dire 
need of money for arms and ammunition. For these 

services he was rewarded with land, and he soon became 



Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 243 

an important chief. During this time he came into 
touch with EngUsh missionaries and was converted to 
Christianity. When the wars were over he rose to a 
very high place, being second in importance to the 
Katikiro, or Prime Minister, and between the two there 
arose a strong feeUng of jealousy which could never be 
overcome. Kakungulu, a capable leader and adminis- 
trator, was a serious rival to the Katikiro, Apolo, for the 
chief position under Mwanga, and there was a constant 
striving between them for supremacy. 

When the British Protectorate was formed Kakun- 
gulu was sent to Kavirondo to assist in settling that 
part of the country, and later he was asked to help in 
Busoga, which was a feudal state of Buganda. From 
there he went to the Teso country, where for years he 
did extremely good work in curbing the turbulent spirit 
of the tribes who, up to that time, had never known 
the meaning of government or of submission to authority. 
Unassisted by British officers, he was able to bring about 
a peaceful state of affairs in the Teso country without 
resorting to forcible measures, and he built good roads 
linking up the residences of important chiefs with his own 
fort. For a time his dwelling-place had to be a fortified 
and stockaded enclosure with a guard constantly on duty, 
but he gradually secured the good will of the people, and 
even got them to consent to pay taxes to the Government. 

For these services he was promised large concessions 
of land, and at one time it was even whispered that he 
might be made paramount chief of the country with a 
title and power equivalent to that of a king. Owing, 
however, to frequent changes of governors and their 
assistant officers, Kakungulu has had to endure much 
annoyance from continual variations in policy. Promises 

244 The Soul of Central Africa 

have been made and withdrawn, and he has been moved 
from one locaUty to another as chief, though he has always 
managed to retain one part of his possessions at Mbale, 
where he rules many miles of country inhabited by the 
Bagesu. It was, indeed, the fact that he had taken up 
his private residence and settled his family there that first 
made Mbale known as a possible centre for government. 

At that time the Bagesu people on Mount Elgon were 
among the most unruly and treacherous tribes in this 
part of the country, and no European could visit the 
mountain unless he went under the protection of an 
armed force. My own visit to them fourteen or more 
years ago, when I went to see a mission station started 
by the Rev. W. A. Crabtree, was hmited to one short 
journey from the Government station at Mbale, for 
owing to the unsettled and dangerous state of the country 
I could not then carry out my intention of going round 
the mountain to visit certain caves. Kakungulu has now 
built a second house some distance from his former 
dwelling and on a higher peak of the mountain, in order 
to be farther from the increasing bustle and noise of 
Mbale, which, as I mentioned in the previous chapter, 
is fast assuming the dimensions of a town and has many 
Indian traders and shopkeepers. My friendship with this 
chief was one of over twenty years' standing, and now, 
when I went to live in his enclosure, I obtained, through 
his influence, the best help towards an understanding of 
the Bagesu that could be procured. 

This tribe appears to have come from the hills in 
Kavirondo many years ago and to have driven out the 
original inhabitants, who were but few in number. They 
are a totemic tribe and are split up into clans which 
vary in size, some consisting of only a few families. In 



Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 245 

the government of their communities the men exercise 
the authority, but the women assert themselves much 
more forcibly and effectively than those of Busoga or 
Buganda. It is no uncommon occurrence for a wife to 
insist on her rights and resist her husband's wishes to the 
extent of coming to blows with him, and even in an 
appeal to force the grey mare sometimes proves the better 
horse. The clans are exogamous, that is, men seek their 
wives from other clans having different totems from 
their own. They are a poor, degraded set of people, living 
with little comfort. Even such meagre luxury as a skin 
spread to serve as a bed is almost unknown, and husband, 
wife and children sleep naked on the floor round the fire. 

Though in the course of this book I have sometimes 
used the past tense in describing the customs and beliefs 
of these peoples, it is necessary, I think, to point out that 
the great majority of the tribes, especially in the more 
out-of-the-way districts, are still uncivilized and untouched 
by Christian influences and carry on their old customs at 
the present day. It is only when these practices lead to 
crime and manifest wrongdoing that the machinery of 
government is put in action against them. Such doings 
are then discountenanced by the more advanced chiefs 
and the local authorities, but it takes a long time to 
persuade the mass of the people to give them up. 

Among the Bagesu neither men nor women wear 
clothing until after the initiation ceremony by which 
they are admitted into full membership of their clan. 
Until this ceremony has been performed marriage is not 
permitted ; indeed it is impossible unless a man can find 
some woman who, like himself, has refused to undergo 
the ceremony and accept the solemn obligations it entails. 
When such a case occurs, the marriage is not recognized 

246 The Soul of Central Africa 

by the clan, and any children born of the union are 
outcasts and suffer .with their parents all manner of 
hardships. Both parents and children are objects of 
contumely and are subjected to all kinds of indignities 
without any means of redress; they may be robbed or 
injured with impunity, for no one will sympathize with 
or avenge them. Life for such a couple is hard, and the 
members of their families and clans, far from making 
any attempt to mitigate the severities of their lot, treat 
them with the greatest contempt as cowards and unworthy 
of clan membership. 

When these Bagesu first came to Mount Elgon they 
had to make their dw^ellings on the higher peaks of the 
mountain, and seldom dared to venture down to the 
valleys, for there they were always in danger of attack 
by some foe, and defeat meant death or slavery. Ten 
or twenty families join together to form a village, build- 
ing their homes in a small cluster on a fairly level 
spot some way up the mountain, where they dig their 
fields* and plant their millet, sweet potatoes and other 
crops as near as possible to the village. A husband always 
gives his wife a field, and in many instances he also 
possesses and cultivates some land for his own use. He 
readily assists his wife to dig and sow her crops, and she 
in turn helps him with his field. It is the duty of the 
wife to keep her husband in food from her field, for his 
own grain is set aside for brewing the beer which is kept 
for use at the great annual festival after harvest, when 
the initiation ceremonies are performed and all the clans, 
laying aside for the time being their feuds, feast and drink 

Except for this annual period of truce, the different 
clans of the Bagesu live in constant and deadly enmity. 

Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 247 

Protection is now afforded by the Government, but in 
earlier days a man was never safe if he went beyond the 
boundaries of his own district, for the members of each 
clan were always ready to attack and kill any intruder 
from another locality who dared to enter their territory 
alone and unprotected. It was seldom that any necessity 
arose for a man to leave his own home, for his work, his 
means of livelihood, and, of necessity, his friends and 
companions, were all to be found within the compass of 
his own clan and village. It was impossible to form 
friendships outside, for not only were men of other tribes 
his sworn foes, but, as I have said, members of different 
clans of the Bagesu themselves were as hostile to each 
other as to strangers. A raid committed by some external 
tribe in force would be the signal for a temporary union 
of all the Bagesu clans to resist the common foe; but, 
the danger past, no trace of amity would remain, and 
the separate clans would revert to a state of bitter 
hostility. Whenever a man went even a short distance 
from his home, he had to go armed with his spear and 
bow and arrows; even when working in his field his 
weapons must be close at hand in case of a sudden attack. 
This state of affairs was rendered all the more extra- 
ordinary by the fact that, as the clans were exogamous, 
men had to obtain their wives from hostile clans. The 
fact that a man had married or wanted to marry a girl 
from another clan in no degree mitigated this mutual 
hatred, and the man had to fetch his wife at the risk of 
his life or else wait until the harvest festival, when all 
was peace and goodwill. 

At the end of harvest a general truce comes into force 
for as long as the beer lasts. As much grain as can be 
spared is always reserved for brewing the beer, and the 

248 The Soul of Central Africa 

brew is made as intoxicating as possible, for this festival 
is the one great break in the year's routine, and it is 
looked forward to by men and women, old and young. 
Differences are all forgotten, and under the intoxicating 
influences of beer and merrymaking men and women 
revel together day and night regardless of marriage 
relations. All weapons are carefully laid aside, and in 
their place each person carries a long bamboo staff, in 
the hollow of which is a tube, sometimes long, sometimes 
short, through which the beer is drunk. 

Whoever has brewed beer invites the assembled com- 
pany to drink. The beer is put in a large pot in the 
open, and the men sit round and suck it up through 
their tubes. From morning till night they sit and talk 
amicably, and the length of their stay depends on the 
amount of beer available. Men and women drink apart 
from each other and from separate pots. Whenever a 
man shows signs of reaching a quarrelsome stage of 
intoxication, he is removed by his companions to a hut, 
and left to sleep off the effects of the drink before rejoin- 
ing the company. Sometimes a husband and wife will 
make a compact of mutual aid : so long as the husband 
drinks, the wife refrains and watches over him, ready to 
remove him when necessary; then, when he has drunk 
his fill and recovered, he performs the same service for 
his wife. 

Drinking, however, does not compose the whole 
festival, for singing goes on constantly, and dancing is 
vigorously indulged in by everyone, from old people, for 
whom a few steps are enough, to children barely able to 
toddle. So universal is the love of dancing that at all 
times and in all stages of civilization it will draw crowds 
together when nothing else has any appeal. In the even- 

Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 249 

ing and during the night the dancing is at its height, and, 
under the influence of excitement and beer, men and 
women aUke throw off all restraint, marriage ties and 
claims are disregarded, and a free rein given to impulse 
and desire. This is, moreover, the time when marriages 
are arranged. No courtship is necessary; men and 
women simply make known their desire to each 
other, and all that is left is for the woman's clan- 
relatives to settle what fee they will demand for their 
daughter, for she is ''daughter" not only to her 
parents, but to all members of her father's clan and 

When the beer in one village has all disappeared, the 
company, instead of considering the festival at an end, 
betake themselves to another village where a further 
supply is to be found. The number of villages thus 
visited may be considerable and the merry-making may 
continue for several weeks before the members return to 
their own homes and settle down to their ordinary life 
again, whereupon, in former days, they would at once 
resume their attitude of hostility towards those with whom 
they had been feasting and rejoicing. 

A young couple who contract marriage on one of these 
occasions will in a few days settle down to the ordinary 
routine of life as though they had been married for years. 
The husband has to see that his wife is supplied with a 
field and to give her a hoe to till it. If he possesses no 
land he has to arrange with the head-man of the village 
wliat part of the hill he may take possession of, for 
though there is plenty of land, it is all claimed as clan 
property by one clan or another, and an individual may 
not take possession without permission. The chief of 
the village, therefore, decides the plot of ground to be 

250 The Soul of Central Africa 

tilled by the newly-married couple, and it becomes from 
that time their property for life. Some few families, 
however, occupy sufficient land for a father to be able 
to supply his son with a field, in which case there is no 
need to ask for clan land. 

There is no lack of arable land on Mount Elgon, for 
the great cluster of peaks of varying heights which 
composes the mountain is separated by fertile valleys and 
ridges. On the heights rise numerous streams which 
water the slopes; many of these are large and form 
.wonderful waterfalls that dash over rocky precipices 
hundreds of feet high into great pools below. Though 
in places the mountain shows a surface of bare granite 
and hard stone, in others this is covered by many feet 
of rich soil, which, in the valleys between the peaks, is 
sufficient to grow fine belts of forest, with magnificent 
trees and a rich tropical undergrow^th of ferns and 
flowers. Round the Government station at Mbale the 
hillsides are all under cultivation, and yield annually 
splendid crops. The only paths are tracks made by the 
natives as they pass from one village to another, and, as 
these generally run along the sides of the hills at about 
the same level, it is possible to walk quite long distances 
without having to descend to a valley or surmount a steep 
ridge. Frequent streams cross the paths, flowing in clear, 
rapid torrents down to the valleys, where they unite to 
form considerable rivers. 

Before the British appeared and took up their 
residence in these parts, frequent raids used to be made 
on this district, and people and cattle were carried off 
by tribes who were said to come from the north, and were 
probably Abyssinians. The Bagesu were not able to 
resist these attacks, but fled to the higher parts of the 

Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 251 

mountains and concealed themselves and their belongings 
until the raiders had departed. There are many caves in 
the higher slopes, and some of these were kept stored 
with grain so that the villagers could flee to them and 
remain in hiding. The paths leading to these caves were 
usually difficult to follow and were guarded by men, who 
concealed themselves at suitable points above them and 
worked havoc among their enemies with stones and other 
missiles. Since British protection has ensured them 
safety from these raids, the people have come farther 
down the mountain, and now cultivate the more fertile 
plains and valleys. 

The Bagesu keep cows, but these are of a small, 
mountain kind which yield but little milk. The people, 
however, do not regard them as sources of food; their 
milk is a secondary consideration, and the cows, with the 
goats and sheep, are primarily barter goods, their most 
important use being to pay the marriage fees, for a man 
not only aims at obtaining more than one wife for him- 
self, but he has to help his son to make up the fee 
demanded for his wife. The animals are not often killed 
for their meat, and as seldom as possible for sacrificial 

A man, however, never knows when he may be called 
upon to offer a sacrifice to some ghost or to some god. 
Fights and murders are of fairly frequent occurrence, 
and any man who has killed another cannot return home 
until he has been purified. For this purpose a goat is 
killed, and the contents of its stomach smeared over the 
face, chest, and legs, not only of the culprit himself but 
of his children as well, while any liquid remaining over 
is scattered and sprinkled over his house and round the 
door to prevent the ghost of the murdered person from 

252 The Soul of Central Africa 

coming near. The meat of the sacrificed animal is then 
eaten by the family. 

Every hut has its sacred place, where there may be 
found either a shrine or some bamboo stakes, with shells 
stuck on their ends, planted firmly in the ground. These 
are sacred to some god or ghost, and are erected when 
the inhabitants are advised by the medicine-man to make 
an offering for the purpose of warding off some threatened 
evil or of curing some disease which has broken out in 
the family or in the village. Under these bamboo poles, 
or before the shrine, food or beer will be placed in the 
hope that the ghost will eat and drink, be pacified, and 
cease to annoy the inhabitants. On the whole there is 
little in the way of religious observance or belief among 
these clans, and, unless there is good reason for so doing, 
they avoid intruding upon the sanctity of their gods and 

The sick are not, so far as I could discover, looked 
after with any care or tenderness; even a mother will 
give very casual attention to her helpless children, and 
once they are able to look after themselves they are as 
much under the care of the rest of the clan as under 
that of their own parents; in fact, they are everybody's 
business, with the usual result. Here we have an example 
of the lack of sympathy in families where relationships 
are reckoned through the father only. Where, as here, 
the relations of the father must see to the sick and provide 
the necessary care and medicines, it is quite probable 
that the patients will be left very much to themselves to 
recover or die as nature may determine ; whereas, where 
mother-right prevails, there is generally a more sym- 
pathetic and helpful spirit. 

The children, so long as they are well, seem a merry 

Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 253 

lot, and as they play on the slopes of Elgon they appear 
as happy as the day is long. Their little troubles are 
soon forgotten in the world-wide game of pretending to 
be grown up. They make little harps and drums with 
which they produce the monotonous thuds which, though 
to a Western ear they lack even the semblance of music, 
are to the native a sound of joy. Games of housekeeping, 
too, may at times be gloriously realistic, for the hill- 
slopes abound in a kind of field rat which lives on growing 
plants and which can be caught, cooked, and eaten. Boys 
are taught at an early age to care for the goats and sheep, 
while the little girls are introduced to the mysteries of 
digging and cooking. From very tender years also they 
are the water-carriers and gatherers' of firewood for all 
uses in the house ; but in spite of these tasks there is 
plenty of time for play. No part of the precious day is 
wasted over dressing or looking after clothes, for they 
wear none, but they are as fond of decorating themselves 
as our children are of ''dressing up," and their love for 
jewellery is as great as that of any EngUsh girl. The 
materials, however, are not such as would please our more 
sophisticated maidens, for a sardine tin will supply half 
a dozen children with what they consider the most beauti- 
ful finger-rings, while a few inches of brass wire not 
thicker than a slate pencil is more precious than a hand- 
some dress. 

These people have no idea of years and keep no 
account of age, but few seem ever to attain to old age — 
at any rate, they seldom reach a time when they are 
too feeble to work or get about. Girls are not more 
than ten when they begin to prepare for marriage. This 
preparation consists of a lengthy and painful process of 
scarifying the chest and forehead. The instrument used 

254 The Soul of Central Africa 

is a kind of large needle or piece of iron tapering to a 
point at one end ; a ring at the other end fits on the little 
finger, and the needle is curved to lie closely round the 
back of the hand with the point resting against the 
thumb. The girl carries this always with her and makes 
scarifications by pinching up a piece of skin and running 
the pointed needle through, pushing it so far that the 
holes made are big enough for a pencil to pass through. 
Sometimes she will rub wood ashes into the holes, and 
when the wounds heal they leave thick hard lumps on 
the flesh, some of those on the forehead standing out as 
big as peas and being quite hard and black. At times 
terrible festering sores are the result of these scarifica- 
tions, and the girl has to wait weeks before she can 
proceed with her markings ; but nothing will discourage 
her, and when the wound has healed she will persevere 
with the treatment, arranging the markings in the special 
Unes and shape belonging to her clan. These markings 
the girls consider essential, and look upon them, when 
completed, with admiration. Men, too, consider them 
marks of beauty in a wife, and the girls themselves prize 
them as highly as any fair maid of our own land values 
her beautiful hair or eyes. No man would think of 
marrying a girl who could not show these markings, and 
she is not admitted into the society of her elders until 
they are completed. 

Youths also have to undergo an initiation ceremony 
which admits them into the society of the men and 
proclaims them ready for marriage. Their preparation 
for this initiation goes on for several weeks, during which 
time they go from village to village dancing and singing 
and gathering gifts, or promises of gifts, for the final 
feast. They decorate themselves with whatever they can 



Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 255 

obtain in the way of ornaments, and many wear on their 
thighs iron bells shaped like shells. Four of these are 
threaded on a string and tied round the thigh, so that 
they shake and rattle as the wearer walks about. While 
dancing the wearer stamps his foot so that the rattle of 
the bells follows a kind of rhythm. During this part of 
the proceedings the boys go about in bands of six or 
seven, each accompanied by a master of the ceremonies 
whose duty it is to instruct the youths as to their 
behaviour and future duties, and to keep order. When 
the time of preparation is finished and the day for the 
initiation ceremony is announced, the youths gather 
together in one place, where the chief of the clan and 
a priest give them their final instructions, after which 
they have to go through a long and exhausting programme 
which lasts from daybreak until evening. 

I was permitted to attend one of these ceremonies 
which took place at a village some two miles from my 
camp, and which I found full of interest. The six 
youths to be initiated came to my camp one evening 
dancing and singing, and two days later the ceremony 
took place. At daybreak the priest and the chief went 
to the mountain shrine to beseech the god to bless the 
ceremony and to remove all evil from the youths and 
from the place. Later the boys followed to this place, 
where they were purified and partook of a feast in 
communion with the god. An animal — in this case a 
goat — was killed and the contents of the stomach put in 
a large bowl and mixed with water. The mixture was 
smeared upon the youths, leaving only their backs 
untouched. A feast was then held at the shrine, and the 
youths, having thus received the blessing of the god, 
were instructed in the duties of their future status and 

256 The Soul of Central Africa 

admonished to be strong men and faithful members of 
their clan. This finished, they ran back to the village, 
where hundreds of people had assembled and dancing had 
begun. From twelve o'clock till past two the youths, 
accompanied by crowds of people, sang songs and danced 
backwards and forwards before the village. By the end 
of the time everyone was worked up to a high pitch of 
excitement. The boys would crouch down, peering into 
space as though they saw something, and would suddenly 
dash out of their ranks waving large clubs, which they 
wielded with such blind violence that any unfortunate 
person who chanced to be in their way was certain to 
be knocked down. Women were the chief sufferers, for 
they often could not move about quickly enough to evade 
the blows. Some of the women became completely 
hysterical ; indeed, I saw some who were in such a state 
that they could not stand still; their bodies moved 
involuntarily and their muscles twitched and jerked con- 
tinuously, while their lips moved and their eyes had a 
vacant stare. The young men who were with me said 
that they were under the influence of the spirits, who 
would not let them stand still. Some of them rushed 
about, shrieking and waving their arms in the wildest 

.At about three o'clock the youths were hurried away 
to the mountain for a final service with the priest at the 
shrine. Their return journey was made at a quick run, 
so that they were almost breathless on their arrival in 
the village. Here they were again surrounded by 
admirers, who sang to them songs of encouragement to 
enable them to go forward bravely to the final act of 
the ceremony. They had then to take the solemn vows 
of clan-membership before being admitted, by circum- 

Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 257 

cision, into the closest bond of union with the elders of 
the clan. The ceremony is one which must make a 
lasting impression upon these youths. 

They were first sprinkled with a bunch of herbs dipped 
in water, then a plantain leaf curved like a dish was 
placed on the ground, and in it was put water and an 
egg, covered over with a thin gourd-shell ladle. The 
youth stood near this, and when he had taken the oath 
he gave three jumps, and with the third came down 
upon the gourd, smashing it and the egg. Each youth 
took the oath in this manner, and then the parents and 
friends stood round and encouraged them to endure the 
operation bravely, because any sign of fear or hesitation, 
or even the slightest quiver of pain, brands a youth as 
a coward. A youth so shamed will commit suicide rather 
than live under such a cloud. 

After the ceremony the youths are confined in special 
huts for three to four weeks, when they come out and 
are welcomed ta the clan by a final feast and a dance 
which lasts all night. The robe of manhood is then put 
upon them. This consists of a goatskin worked and 
dressed until it is quite soft. Two corners are tied 
together, and the garment put over the head so that it 
hangs on the right shoulder and passes under the left 
arm. It is thus open down one side of the body, and 
the wearer, when he sits down, draws the two lower 
corners together and tucks them between his legs. This 
is the special dress of a full-grown man who has passed 
through the ceremony of initiation. Women who are 
married wear a small grass apron which hangs from a 
belt at the back, where it is six inches wide, and tapers to 
a point which is passed between the legs and slipped 
under the belt round the waist, which supports it. Thes^ 

258 The Soul of Central Africa 

are the only garments worn by men and women among 
the Bagesu. 

Men and women who have been admitted into 
membership of the clan may marry as soon thereafter 
as they care. For the man there is the question of 
raising the marriage fee, but for this he can call upon 
the help of his parents or borrow from friends, paying 
back the loan of goats and sheep as he is able. Initiation 
ceremonies take place in each clan every other year, but 
as the years do not coincide, some clans are celebrating 
the occasion every year. 

The medicine-man and the rain-maker are important 
personages in this tribe, and they are continually being 
called upon to fulfil some function. On two occasions I 
had opportunities of seeing how the public treated their 
meteorological authorities when the weather did not 
please them and they grew tired of waiting for a change. 
Once, on my former visit, rain was needed, and the rain- 
maker, in spite of repeated requests and many offerings, 
did not respond. At last, finding that the ordinary 
means were making no impression on the obdurate 
wizard, a deputation waited on him to impress upon him 
the fact that their crops were dying and that, unless he 
promptly acceded to their request, they would have to 
resort to other means of persuasion. Still the rain-maker 
did not comply, so the people visited him in a body, 
robbed his hut, broke it down, and belaboured him so 
severely that they broke his leg, and I found the poor 
wretch lying in this miserable condition. This, however, 
in no wise diminished their faith in his power, and when 
a few more days had passed without rain they again 
resorted to the sick man, this time to apologize, fearing 
that in their wrath they had gone too far and angered 



Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 259 

the gods. They apologized to him, restored all his 
property, and made him a substantial gift in recompense 
for his personal injuries. As the unfortunate rain-maker 
could not go himself, he agreed to send his assistant to 
proceed with the rain-making, and I saw this deputy set 
out to the shrine on the mountain with the offerings for 
the god of rain. By a singular coincidence, the time of 
the offering saw the beginning of a copious fall of rain 
which lasted two or three days, to the entire satisfaction 
of the people and the complete confirmation of their faith 
in the rain-maker. 

The other occasion was about the time of the 
initiation ceremonies which I saw. I was told that there 
had been but brief breaks in the continuous rains, and 
that the people were growing anxious about their harvest, 
which, for lack of sunshine, would not ripen. The rain- 
maker had been warned how essential sunshine was, and 
offerings had been made in vain. I saw the result one 
morning as I stood outside my tent, for a crowd of people 
passed driving flocks and carrying goods of all kinds 
from one part of the valley to another. Upon inquiry, 
I learned that all this was the property of the rain- 
maker, who had refused to listen to the prayers for fine 
weather. To show him that he was carrying this indiffer- 
ence too far, they had determined to relieve him of his 
earthly possessions. I never heard how the matter ended 
or what effect this action had on the weather, for I had 
to leave soon after, and such affairs are kept secret and 
not spread abroad, especially where they may reach 
European ears, for the Government is making strenuous 
attempts to stop rain-making and to destroy the influence 
of the powerful class who practise it. 

The disposal of the dead among the Bagesu is of 

26o The Soul of Central Africa 

interest, because by their customs no graves are made, 
and yet neither bodies nor bones are left about. When 
a person dies the body must never be allowed to decay, 
for that would be fatal to the interests of the community 
and bring dire results in its train. The ceremonies may 
not begin till evening, so that if a man dies during the 
night the body will lie in state in the house through the 
next day, while if he dies during the day the lying-in- 
state will only last a few hours, during which time the 
widows and near relatives wail in the house. It must be 
remembered that here we are only a httle north of the 
equator, so that day and night are of nearly equal length ; 
darkness comes soon after six o'clock, and there is no 
twilight, the change from day to night taking only a few 
minutes. As soon as darkness falls the body of the dead 
man is carried out and deposited upon a piece of waste 
ground, and sounds as of the howling of jackals rise all 
around. This noise is meant as a warning to all people 
to keep to their houses lest they may meet the ghost of 
the dead man, and the children are frightened into 
obedience by being told that wild animals are coming to 
eat the body. In reality the sounds are made by men, 
who, going to various places a little way off, blow 
trumpets which sound like the howls of distant animals. 
All the people, therefore, keep within their huts, while 
some old women proceed to the waste ground on which 
the body lies and cut it up, carrying back the parts to 
the house, and leaving but little behind for any real wild 
animals or birds, to devour. The portions they carry 
back have to be cooked and eaten by the mourners, who 
during the next four days meet together to wail for the 
dead and eat the flesh. The bones are burned, and 
nothing is left to bear witness to the ceremony but the 

Mount Elgon— The Bagesu 261 

skull, which is cleaned and kept in some prominent place 
either in the hut or at the door, for it is thought to be 
the relic to which the ghost attaches itself. The belief 
among these Bagesu is that, unless the body of the dead 
is thus destroyed and eaten, the ghost will be angry and 
haunt them, killing their children or otherwise working 
havoc in the clan. The relatives therefore partake of the 
body as a ceremonial duty and thus pacify the ghost. 

It is worthy of notice that among these primitive 
people who follow the custom of ceremonial cannibalism 
there is no fear of the ghost so long as it is pleased; 
indeed, the ghosts of parents and grandparents are 
regarded as desirable inmates of a home, and their skulls 
are kept and honoured and daily offerings of food and 
drink are made to them. So long as the family does 
what is right, they need not fear the power of these 
ghosts; but when some custom is disregarded or some 
wrong done, their presence becomes a danger, for they 
will then vent their feelings of wrath and disgust by 
causing sickness or some other calamity to fall upon the 



The Bamalaki, a Religious Sect — Journey from Mbale to Sabei — Sipi 
Fall — The Basabei— Use of Gourds — Huts — Food and Dress — 
Initiation Ceremonies — Marriage — The Batwa Trappers — Caves 
on the Higher Slopes and at Sipi — The Bakama Smiths — Division 
of Pastoral Peoples — Return to Mbale. 

DURING my visit to Kakungulu I had an oppor- 
' tunity of studying the behefs of a rehgious sect 
which has recently arisen, the holders of which 
profess a faith of extraordinarily mixed origin. Kakun- 
gulu has adopted the faith of this body, with additions, 
and is spreading his views among the young men who, 
as many of them are maintained by him, find them easy 
of acceptance for worldly as well as for religious reasons. 
Kakungulu's original Christian training made him a 
zealous adherent of the Church of England, in which he 
was baptized, and his first desire to break away from the 
restraints of Church discipline ,was due to those marriage 
difficulties which have so often been the cause of converts' 
defection from their early zeal. The change from the 
old life of polygamy to monogamy proved in many cases 
more than their faith could stand, and when a marriage 
proved unhappy and a man discovered that, according to 
the law of the Church, he could not put /away the wife 
who had ceased to please him and take another, he began 
to feel dissatisfied. Many left the Church in order to 

be free from these galling restrictions, but some of the 


Mount Elgon— Sabei 263 

better class felt unwilling to take such a step without some 
authority. This they found in the Old Testament, where 
they discovered that the early fathers of Israel had more 
than one wife and that King David had many. This not 
only seemed to justify their rejection of the Christian 
ideas preached by their teachers, but roused their resent- 
ment against those who insisted on monogamy, and led 
them to throw off what they regarded as an irksome yoke. 

Further developments soon followed, for they insisted 
that they were still true to their baptismal vows and were 
still Christians though they married several wives. Then 
another point arose : one man, who had no leanings 
towards polygamy, developed a strong objection to 
medical men and their medicines and treatment. He 
was a singularly religious-minded man, but utterly 
lacking in mental ability, and absolutely ignorant, and he 
was quite unable to distinguish between the magic- 
working of the medicine-men under the old regime and 
the skill of the European doctors. He therefore withdrew 
from the Church, and the new party, because he was a 
chief of some importance, sought him for their leader and 
added his contribution to the strange medley of beliefs 
which made up their creed. 

The main body of the sect continues to declare that 
they follow the Bible as the standard of faith, but they 
know nothing of the chronological order of the books ; for 
their purposes the books of the Old Testament might be 
of later date than the Gospels. They have a really 
wonderful verbal knowledge of the books themselves, but 
they only apply those portions which agree with their 
preconceived ideas and completely ignore the meaning of 
everything else. Their converts, after the scantiest 
possible teaching, are baptized in the name of the Trinity ; 

264 The Soul of Central Africa 

they permit polygamy to the number of four wives, and 
make faith-heahng a fundamental doctrine. They call 
themselves Bamalaki, or followers of Malaki, the man 
whom they look upon as the founder of their sect. 
Hundreds of members of the Roman Catholic and Pro- 
testant missions have seceded to them, and the sect now 
numbers some thousands. They have their own schools 
and a large staff of teachers appointed from among their 

Kakungulu's first reason for joining this sect was that 
he desired to divorce his second wife for infidelity, which, 
however, he was unable to prove to the satisfaction of 
the civil courts. As he had divorced his first wife on the 
same plea and without any more satisfactory evidence, the 
attempt was condemned by the members of the Church, 
whereupon he left it and joined the sect of the Bamalaki. 
I now found that he had gone a step farther in his 
departure from Church teaching, and had formed a new 
branch of the Bamalaki which he calls " the Church of 
the Almighty." Adherents to this branch are circum- 
cised after the practice of the Jewish religion, but he 
retains the form of Christian baptism together with the 
doctrines of Christian Science or faith-healing which are 
professed by the main body. The ignorance and incon- 
sistency displayed in his ideas are only equalled by the 
obstinate tenacity with which lie clings to every article 
of his new faith. 

This off-shoot of the faith of the Bamalaki w^as the 
religion I found taught and practised in Kakungulu's 
enclosure during the month I spent there. The zeal of 
his party is considerable and they show a great desire to 
learn to read and write. Kakungulu is a chief of con- 
siderable means and much influence, so that he is able to 

Mount Elgon— Sabei 365 

build schools and employ teachers in his own district, 
where the teaching is regular and daily services are held. 
Kakungulu himself attends service regularly, taking an 
active part and bearing himself very much as the high- 
priest of the sect. The teachers wear turbans like the 
Jews of old, in fact the head-dress is copied from pictures. 
They observe Saturday as a day of rest and keep it much 
more strictly than the Christians do their Sunday. 

During the month I spent there I was asked each 
Sunday to meet the teachers and explain Bible difficulties 
to them; but though I pointed out to them their innu- 
merable inconsistencies, I doubt whether what I had to 
say made any real impression or influenced their views 
in any way. I can, however, say for them that they are 
strictly faithful to their own behefs and live, according 
to their lights, moral lives. They have formulated for 
themselves a religion out of this strange medley of ideas, 
and their conduct is in complete accordance with their 

After making a brief survey of the Bagesu I began 
to think of moving on, and, as there was no reply to 
my letter asking for permission to go into Karamojo, I 
determined to go higher up the mountain to see some of 
the caves, which were said to have been at one time 
permanent human habitations, and to visit some little- 
known tribes on the higher slopes of Elgon. After two 
days of marching up a gentle ascent I began the real task 
of climbing the mountain. Unfortunately rain fell during 
the night and early morning of my second day out, 
making walking most difficult. I gave up all thought of 
riding, handing my bicycle over to one of the boys to 
carry, and soon found that I had done wisely, for much 
of the path was under water deep enough to cover my 

266 The Soul of Central Africa 

sfhoes, while in other places the earth was muddy and 
slippery. After the first two or three miles the steepness 
of the slope cleared the path of water and left a smooth 
clay surface almost like ice. When we reached the real 
ascent the steepness of the slopes and the slippery surface 
of the clay made climbing most trying and frequent rests 
were necessary. The journey had its redeeming features, 
however, for the air was delightfully cool and the scenery 
magnificent. At one place the ascent took the form of 
^ a sharp rise of 500 feet, almost like a wall in its steep- 
ness, which had to be negotiated by a path zigzagging 
up the face of the cliff. 

On the plateau at the top I rested and had some 
refreshment, and for the next few miles we ascended 
gently, though occasionally there would be a sharp rise, 
and here and there a ridge with a steep dip on the other 
side. There was no way of getting round these difficult 
places and we had to get over them as best we could. 
The scenery was beautiful and we crossed frequent streams 
rushing clear and sparkling over their stony beds. Many 
of these were spanned by bridges made of bamboo, which 
grows in abundance on the mountain. A few^ strong 
branches of trees form the ribs of such a bridge, and 
bamboos cut to equal lengths are laid across the frame- 
work of trees. These bridges have been made by the 
Baganda agents who are looking after these districts for 
the Government. 

The camp to which I now went was near one of the 
finest falls I had seen in Uganda. It is called the Sipi 
Fall and has a drop of fully 500 feet. The noise of the 
water is deafening to anyone near it, but at a short 
distance it sounds musical and has a soothing effect. The 
vegetation round the fall is wonderful, for the tree-trunks 



Mount Elgon— Sabei 267 

are covered with ferns and flowers grow everywhere, even 
where they seem to be chnging to the surface of the bare 
rock. An indescribable effect of grace and beauty is 
added by the maidenhair fern which hangs from the rocky 
walls wherever it can find a space. The ravine into which 
the water falls is so overhung with trees and flowers that, 
from the heights above, the rocky bed of the river is 
completely concealed, while the tropical growth gives 
cover to all manner of wild beasts and birds. 

To my dismay I found the next march still more 
trying, and I began to feel that my climbing days must 
be over and my strength deserting me. Some of the 
rocks we had to climb were slippery and the foot-holds 
by no means secure, so that I had to resort to the plan 
of keeping one boy always with me in case I should need 
a helping hand. 

After a good deal of climbing we reached the next 
camp, where I meant to make my headquarters during 
my stay, and from there work up and down the mountain, 
visiting both the people and the places of interest. This 
camp was on a fairly level plateau in Sabei where the 
height registered by my aneroid was 8,550 feet above 
sea level. A little before sunset on the first evening we 
experienced a terrific rainstorm. I was writing at the 
time in a hut with open sides, and I kept moving from 
one part to another as the wind drove the rain and hail 
through the room. The wind, however, shifted from one 
direction to another and blew in turn from every point 
of the compass so that it was not long before there was 
no dry spot in the hut. As soon as it was possible I fled 
to my tent, only to find two or three inches of water there. 
The tent had been pitched over a shght hollow which 
was now a pool. The bed seemed the only dry place, 

268 The Soul of Central Africa 

and I got into it as quickly as I could. When the rain 
was over it felt intensely cold, and I required all the 
blankets I had to keep me even moderately warm. The 
cold was not really extreme, for I do not think the 
thermometer ever registered a temperature even so low 
as 45°, but the rapid change from the heat of the sun 
at noon and from the plains, where there was never any 
suggestion of cold, made me feel even this as un- 
pleasantly chilly. 

In this part of the country I found greater difficulty 
in getting men who were willing and able to tell me 
about their customs. I questioned and talked to quite 
a number before I got hold of the right kind for my 
purpose. Fortunately, I soon found one man who was 
able to speak a language I knew and who was willing 
to be retained as an interpreter. Then, after two or 
three days' general talk with the natives, I found three 
old men who by degrees became communicative and told 
me a good deal about their customs. By drawing com- 
parisons between their stories and what I knew of other 
places I roused their interest, and they became quite 
anxious to prove how much more careful they were to 
adhere closely in all things to their tribal customs than 
were, for instance, the Bagesu. 

These Basabei, as they call themselves, are an off- 
shoot of the Nandi and Turkana tribes, who do not 
follow milk customs entirely, though their ancestors were 
pastoral people. Like the Masai, they use gourds for 
milk vessels, and I think it is clear that these are an 
earlier form of vessel than those used by the pastoral folk 
in the lake districts, and that both the earthen pot and 
the wooden pot only became known to these pastoral 
people when they had conquered some aboriginal tribe 

Mount Elgon— Sabei 269 

to whom methods of working in wood and clay were 
already familiar. Gourds, being found in their natural 
state, may early have been brought into use for 
receptacles just as they grew, and now the Masai and 
tribes to the east and north use them almost exclusively. 
They have cultivated the art of stitching them together 
when they crack, and they attach strips of leather for 
handles by which to carry them. By the constant appli- 
cation of butter to keep them from drying and cracking, 
the gourds attain a fine dark polish and really make very 
pretty vessels. These people differ also in their use of 
milk from the pastoral tribes' to the south of the Nile, 
for they allow it to go sour and make it into a kind of 
cheese, whereas the pastoral people of the lake region 
drink it while it is fresh and have strict rules against 
allowing it to curdle in their pots. 

Another difference between these Basabei and the 
pastoral people in the lake region is to be seen in their 
manner of building. Among the former the huts are 
some six feet high and flat roofed. The walls are made 
of branches fixed firmly in the ground, the spaces being 
filled up with mud. From wall to wall are laid poles, 
which are covered first with a layer of grass to keep the 
earth from coming through. On the top of this, earth 
is laid to a depth of some eight inches, and is pressed 
until it presents a hard, smooth surface, which is some- 
times glazed to render it rain-proof. This mode of 
building is common throughout Ugogo and in the 
Usagara hills, even in districts within a hundred miles 
of the east coast opposite Zanzibar. It is a sign of the 
presence of a warlike people who have to live ever on 
the defensive against surrounding enemies who may raid 
their villages by night and would burn down grass huts 

270 The Soul of Central Africa 

if such were to be found; hence the people have taken 
to these almost fire-proof buildings. On Elgon I found 
no kraals formed, in the manner of the pastorals of 
Ankole and Bunyoro, by building the huts so that they 
enclose a space or compound. The kraals are stockaded 
enclosures adjoining the huts, and the cows are driven 
into them at night and lie in the open. At the time of 
my visit almost all the cows had been taken away to 
pasture on the plains bordering on Lake Salisbury, where 
the land is well watered by abundant streams which run 
into the lake, and only a few cows for immediate use 
remained on the mountain. 

The people reminded me forcibly of the Nandi, 
Kikuyu, Wamegi and Wahumba tribes to the south- 
east, who have added to their milk diet the use of 
vegetable foods, so that they are no longer solely 
dependent upon milk. In dress, too, the Basabei 
resemble the Masai, for the men wear little clothing, 
while the w^omen are draped in long cowskin robes which 
reach from the shoulders to the feet. The women do 
not cover their heads or faces, and are fond of ear 
ornaments, piercing the lobes of the ears to insert brass 
and iron rings. Like the Masai, the women carry heavy 
loads of food or firewood on their backs, the weight 
being supported by straps of leather passed round their 
heads or foreheads. This forms another striking differ- 
ence between them and the pastoral women of the lake 
region, who are not permitted to carry any weights at all. 

I found that here there was a strong feeling among 
the men and women in favour of holding initiation 
ceremonies before any young people were admitted as 
members of their adult society. These ceremonies take 
place after harvest, when the field-work is at an end for 

Mount Elgon— Sabel 271 

the time and there is no anxiety about the crops. Both 
men and women have to undergo the rites and spend 
some weeks in preparation, during which time the men 
are instructed in tribal laws and customs and must swear 
to follow them before they can undergo the rite of 
circumcision. After the rite is performed, the young 
men remain from five to six weeks in seclusion. When 
they come out their bodies are painted with red and 
white clay, and they are brought before a council of 
elders, who bestow upon them new names which are 
tribal and are considered most sacred. Each youth, when 
coming to receive his new name, has to be entirely 
covered with a cowskin so that nothing but a hand is 
visible. They crawl upon their elbows and knees, and 
in the exposed hand each holds a staff five feet long. 
An attendant watches them as they crawl along, and 
should one inadvertently expose more than this hand 
the attendant draws his attention to the fault by a blow 
with a stick. When they come before the elders they 
kneel in a row, arranging their staffs so that they over- 
lap and form a continuous row, each boy holding one end 
of his own staff and an end of his neighbour's in each 
hand. Then they are lectured and given general instruc- 
tions as to their behaviour and certain questions are put 
to them. When they wish to reply in the negative, or 
when, as is sometimes the case, no reply is expected, 
they remain still, with their heads bowed and their staffs 
lying on the ground. When, however, they wish to 
answer in the affirmative, they raise their staffs in the 
air and with one voice shout a prolonged " Yes." They 
are then given their new names, and their friends and 
relatives crowd round to decorate them with ornaments 
for the dance which invariably follows. 

272 The Soul of Central Africa 

Young women undergo an initiation ceremony corres- 
ponding to that of the men and also receive new names. 
They are instructed by old women, as the youths are by 
old men, and crawl before the women to be catechized 
and receive their names. 

When both parties are ready the dance is given in 
the village of some clan elder, who collects beer and a 
supply of food from the members of the tribe. It is a 
general tribal festival and of special importance in that 
it is the marriage festival for the year. The marriage 
custom differs from that of other tribes, for the young 
couples arrange their matches and end the ceremony on 
the same day. The dancing takes place in the open, and 
crowds assemble to witness or take part in it. A number 
of drums are placed at one end of the compound, a ring 
is formed, and when the drums begin two young people 
step out and dance to and fro and up and down this 
ring, bowing to each other and skipping round without, 
to the unaccustomed eye, either rhyme or reason. Others 
soon join in the dance, and the pace grows faster and 
faster until it becomes a regular rush. This lasts for 
about half an hour, when the drums stop and the dancers 
rest till the music starts again. Young initiated -couples 
meet here, and during the evening arrange a match for 
themselves; at the end of the dance the young man 
carries off his bride to his home and claims her as his 
wife. Before this union becomes permanent the parents' 
consent has to be obtained. In the morning the bride- 
groom sends a hoe to the bride's mother, and her accept- 
ance of this is a sign that she agrees to the match. She 
has then to call together the clan-members, and, in con- 
ference with them, she and her husband settle the amount 
to be asked from the bridegroom as a wedding fee. If 

Mount Elgon— Sabei 273 

the mother rejects the bridegroom she returns the hoe, 
and her daughter has to be sent home the same day; 
another dance is given until the girl is claimed by a 
man whom her parents regard as a suitable son-in-law. 
There is no further marriage ceremony, and the young 
people begin married life at once and are recognized as 
full members of the tribe with right of admission to the 
councils, the husband sitting in the councils of the men, 
while the wife takes part in the deliberations and secrets 
of the women. 

While in Mbale, before starting for Sabei, I had 
heard of a tribe called Batwa, who were described to me 
as dwarfs, and one or two short people among the Bagesu 
were pointed out to me as members of this tribe. It 
was, therefore, with some interest that I sought for these 
people and wandered about among the mountain peaks 
trying in vain to get a glimpse of their homes. At 
length I found a man who said that he knew where some 
of them were living, and as their home was some miles 
away, in one of the almost inaccessible parts of the 
bamboo forest, he agreed to go and ask them to come 
to me. One day three of them came, but, to my 
surprise, they were not pygmies at all, but fairly tall 
young fellows of almost the same type as the Basabei. 
On inquiry I found that they were members of the same 
tribe as the latter, but that they had no settled homes 
and lived a nomadic life in the forest, being what we 
should term trappers. On the mountain there are 
numbers of animals very much like our English mole 
which these trappers capture. They eat the flesh, both 
fresh and as dried meat, with the young shoots of bamboo 
as vegetables, but they also barter the dried flesh for 

grain with the Basabei and other tribes on the lower 


274 The Soul of Central Africa 

slopes of the mountain. There was nothing of special 
interest in the men beyond the fact that they were 
trappers and lived this wandering life on the topmost 
peaks of the mountain, where it is always cool and even 
at times quite cold. 

One of my objects in climbing this part of the 
mountain was to investigate the caves which abound in 
the upper slopes, in order to see if any traces could be 
found of their having been at any time in use as per- 
manent habitations. For this purpose I went to see a 
number of them. They are natural caves in the face of 
the rock, which here forms precipitous walls hundreds of 
feet high, and, so far as I could discover, no attempts 
have ever been made to enlarge them or alter the natural 
construction. In some places there are tiers of caves in 
the face of the rock, the lower set, which we could reach, 
being, I was told, typical of them all. In this part of 
Elgon — in fact, on the whole of the north and north-east 
sides — geologists find no trace of volcanic action, and 
these caves were probably formed by earthquake motions, 
during which the masses of rock were tilted or subsided, 
either leaving open spaces or, by their movement, break- 
ing off and pushing out large portions of the face of the 
rock, and thus leaving holes which formed the caves. 
Right in the doorway of one cave lies a huge wedge- 
shaped pile of rock which looks uncommonly like a mass 
which had been thrust out by the movement of the 
surrounding layers. The entrance is completely hidden, 
and can only be reached by climbing round this rock. 
The caves are, in places, fully 15 feet high, and few are 
less than 20 feet long, while some of the larger ones 
extend 40 to 50 feet before the sloping roof meets the 
floor. The layers of rock form clearly marked shelves, 


%.. %„.«-,-», *. 


Mount Elgon— Sabei 275 

the floor of the lower caves being one shelf, while, about 
a hundred feet higher, another layer forms the floor of the 
next set of caves, and there is yet another set of caves 
above that. Still higher is a fertile plateau, with trees 
and vegetation growing to the very edge of the rock- 
face, down which streams dash from the springs above 
to the ravine below. It would be well, perhaps, to 
remind the reader that Mount Elgon is not one great 
peak rising above the already high land, but a series 
of peaks of varying heights separated by valleys and 
plateaux. The mountain covers an area of many miles, 
and on it rise several fine streams which flow from its 
heights to the Nile or to Lake Victoria. 

I found no deposit of any kind in the caves I visited, 
for the floor of each was solid rock and quite bare. Here 
and there were traces of fires, but there was nothing to 
prove that the caves had been in use for any length of 
time. In some of the caves cattle are now housed, and 
one is .watered by a small stream trickling through it. 
A herd of fifty cows could be, and, I was told, is at times 
kept in this cave, so that there was a certain amount of 
slushy mud in the stream where the cows had trampled 
about. The people themselves could tell me nothing 
about the possibility of the caves having been in con- 
tinuous use; they had not lived there and they did not 
know whether their fathers had ever done so. Some 
could remember having fled into them when raiders had 
attacked them, and could tell how they had had to hide 
their cattle during the daytime and pasture them by night 
on the upper slopes of the mountain. 

On three nights during my stay in the upper part of 
the mountain I woke with a feeling of suffocation and 
had to sit up in bed and gasp for breath for half an hour 

276 The Soul of Central Africa 

or more. The sensation then passed away, but I felt as 
though I must be becoming subject to asthma, which 
rather surprised me. Having completed my survey of 
the people and the investigation of the caves, I descended 
to the lower plateau at Sipi, when, to my surprise, I 
began to feel as though a load of care had been removed 
from my mind; in fact, I felt as though I had just 
recovered from an attack of fever. Walking was once 
more pleasant, and I could get about without the weary 
feeling which had so oppressed me during the past few 
days. On the second day I felt so much more ready for 
work that I came to the conclusion that the altitude had 
been the cause of all my troubles and that the less rarefied 
air of the lower slopes would soon put an end to them. 
It was rather peculiar that in Kigezi, at the same or even 
greater heights, I had felt no ill effects. I was now, 
however, able to do the necessary marches without any 
weariness, and I did not experience any undue fatigue 
when I climbed down towards the ravine to examine 
some of the caves at Sipi Falls. The descent to the lower 
part of the fall is steep ; indeed, in one place the natives 
have made a rough ladder for about a hundred feet down 
the face of the rock where it is a sheer wall. It is possible 
to walk behind the fall and see it dashing into the pool 
below. From where we were we could not get down to 
the pool, and I did not think there was any object in 
crossing the ravine to get down on the other side. I 
learned that in one of the caves there is a kind of salt 
deposit which the people scrape up, but it is only used 
locally and not for trading purposes. 

When we were climbing to examine the caves I 
noticed a bad smell, which I could not understand until 
the guide informed me that a leopard had caught a calf 





Mount Elgon— Sabei 277 

on the slope above the caves and had begun to tear it 
up. When the owner rushed to try to save it, the beast 
jumped over the cliff, a fall of fully 100 feet, alighting 
with its burden in the branches of the trees, from which 
it fell to the ground alive and, so far as they could see, 
uninjured. Before anyone could climb down to the place, 
it had dragged the calf, which it still held, into the rocky 
bed of the stream and escaped. 

Before leaving the heights of the Sipi plateau and 
descending the escarpment to the Mbale plain, I came 
upon a set of people who call themselves Bahama. As 
the name attracted me, I sent for some of the old 
men and made a short examination of their clan. The 
first thing was to find out their reason for claiming the 
name Bahama, which I could only interpret as mean- 
ing " men of the king," the king being the Mukama of 
Bunyoro. After some talk with them I learned that a 
few smiths from Bunyoro had, some years before, made 
their way to this part of Mount Elgon and settled upon 
the slopes doing smith's work. The men I saw claimed 
to be sons of those smiths. They have adopted the 
customs of the Sabei people and have been accepted as 
a clan of that tribe. While in Bunyoro they, as artisans, 
belonged to the lower, or agricultural, classes, but they 
now form a clan of this semi-pastoral tribe. 

This part of Elgon is the dividing line between two 
sets of pastoral tribes. To the east and north are the 
Masai, Nandi, Turkana and Somali, all of whom practise 
initiation ceremonies involving mutilation, while the 
Galla, the Karamojo, and the pastoral tribes of the 
lake region, with the exception of the Banyoro, who at 
puberty extract six lower teeth, avoid all mutilation or 
marking of the body. This may be said to be the dis- 

278 The Soul of Central Africa 

tinguishing feature between two sets of people who are 
,in all other respects allied and who show clear evidence 
of descent from one parent stock, though the problems 
of whence they came and which of them first reached 
Africa have still to be solved. The various branches all 
possess traditions of having come from the north, and, 
so far as I could gather from the tribes I examined, the 
Galla seem to have a good claim to be the parent stock. 
Their migrations belong to the far past, and none of 
them possess anything which can give a clue to their 
history, so that, we are left with the meagre and vague 
accounts which have been handed down orally and in 
which we cannot now distinguish tradition from history. 
Under these circumstances it was most trying to be 
prevented from going on into the Galla country when 
I was so near, and my annoyance was intensified when 
some of the Karamojo people came to me and were quite 
friendly, assuring me that there was no danger in pass- 
ing through their country. Still, as I had not received 
any answer to my letter to the officer commanding the 
troops in Karamojo, and could not proceed without per- 
mission, I decided to return to Mbale to see if anything 
awaited me there. 

The climb down the escarpment was not so difficult 
as the upward journey, but when I tried to ride my 
bicycle on the lower slopes I found that the clay clung 
to it and persistently clogged the fork and mudguard, 
so that I could not go far without dismounting to clean 
it, and at times I had to carry the machine through 
marshy places. At ten o'clock I reached the place at 
which I had arranged with my porters to camp, but, 
after waiting some hours, I had to send out men to look 
for them. They were discovered two miles away, where 



Mount Elgon— Sabei 279 

they had pitched my tent and settled down for the day. 
They quite expected that when I found this I would come 
to them, and they were inclined to resent having to strike 
camp and come on to me. They were so long in coming 
that I secured another set of porters, and when the first 
lot arrived they were paid off at once; the fresh men 
then took over my loads, and I made a forced march to 
Mbale, arriving there about three o'clock. There I spent 
a few days, this time at the Government station, while 
I made fresh plans before starting out again. 



New Plans — A Holiday Tour round Elgon — The Medicine-man and 
the Aeroplane — Administration of the Country — Crossing the 
Mpologoma River — Iganga — Busoga Past and Present — Jinja — 
The Ripon and Owen Falls — Flints. 

ON my return from the higher slopes of Elgon 
to Mbale I found that Mr. Cox, the District 
Commissioner, had left the station to meet the 
Provincial Commissioner who, with his wife, was ex- 
pected to arrive in the district within the next three or 
four days. However, I used a room in his house for the 
work of arranging my goods, while I myself was most 
hospitably entertained by the Assistant District Com- 
missioner. There was no answer to my letter asking for 
permission to go through Karamojo, so that, as the 
period of my leave of absence from my parish at home 
was fast drawing to a close, allowing only a few months 
for further work here, I determined to give up all my 
original plans for a tour through Karamojo to the Galla 
people, and sat down to think how best to make use of 
the remaining time. I decided that the wisest plan 
would be to return to Bunyoro by way of Busoga and 
then journey homeward down the Nile, making studies 
wherever possible of the so-called Nilotic tribes on the 
way to Khartoum. 

Having decided on this I saw that a great deal of my 
camping and marching outfit would be useless, for the 


A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 281 

greater part of the journey could be done by boat or 
rail, and at most I would not have more than ten days' 
marching to do. I was therefore occupied for the next 
two or three days in sorting out, with the help of my 
cook, the articles I might require from my cases of 
provisions, and in making a list of those of which I 
wished to dispose in order that they might be offered 
for sale. I thought at first of sending my surplus stock 
to Kampala, but one of the Assistant Commissioners 
advised me to let the goods be sold at Mbale where he 
thought they might fetch better prices. 

Hearing that I should be able to get a place in the 
motor van for Jinja and thus save a march which would 
take two or three days, I allowed my tent and surplus 
goods to be sold at once and, as accommodation in the 
van was limited, I sent on my rather useless head-boy, 
along with the small boy who had been my cook's 
assistant, with several cases, to Jinja by road, so that all 
might be in readiness there on my arrival. 

When, however, I had made all these arrangements, 
Mr. Guy Eden, the Provincial Commissioner, arrived 
with his wife, and I found that he was an old friend, 
for I had met him years ago when he first came out to 
Kampala to join the Service. They urged me to alter 
my plans and join them in a journey which would take 
us over the Koko ridge of Elgon, then south towards 
Lake Victoria, and so round through Busoga to Jinja. 
I was at first a little disinclined to fall in with this pro- 
posal, as I had sold my tent and goods and would have 
to borrow others, and also because I doubted whether, 
under the conditions of such a tour, I should be able to 
do much work, for the natives stand in awe of the Pro- 
vincial Commissioner, and the fact tl^it he is always 

282 The Soul of Central Africa 

accompanied by a body of native police adds to their 
timidity in approaching him; under such circumstances 
my special method of investigation would be impossible. 
However, I determined to take a holiday and accepted 
their kind invitation to accompany them as their guest. 
Accordingly two days later I was again moving north- 
ward by slow stages, and we took ten days to reach 
Jinja. This journey, with its easy stages, its pleasant 
company and its general comfort made a splendid holiday 
and was a delightful experience after my usual method of 
getting about the country. Mr. Cox accompanied Mr. 
Eden through his own district so that society was not 
lacking, and the novelty of a lady's presence on the march 
added much to the pleasure of the journey. Mrs. Eden 
is one of those women whose part in the making of our 
Empire is an invaluable one. Not only do they brighten 
the existence of their husbands, but their encouraging 
influence reaches farther and does more good than they 
themselves can possibly realize, cheering and sustaining 
many xothers whose life work calls them to dwell in the 
wild and lonely places. 

Before I left Mbale, however, I made a short journey 
to Nabumale where there are two missions, one, the older, 
which I had visited twelve or thirteen years before, 
belonging to the Church Missionary Society, while the 
other is Roman Catholic. These missions are working 
among the Bagesu, and the Church Missionary Society has 
opened a higher grade school for the training of youths, 
more especially the sons of superior chiefs. Here the 
teaching is not confined to the rudiments of education, 
but the pupils are taught something of agriculture and 
of various handicrafts. Such industrial training is of the 
utmost value for promoting the welfare of the natives and 

A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 283 

is the only means of elevating such socially degraded 

While I was visiting this station I had pointed out 
to me a medicine-man, who lived in a hut on the slope 
of the mountain and who had been terribly startled by 
the appearance of the aeroplane in which Dr. Chalmers 
Mitchell was being taken across Africa. The hum of 
the engines was noticed first by the wives of the great 
man, and when the machine came in sight they called to 
their husband who, taking a hurried look at the strange 
being that was approaching, gathered his wives together 
and told them that this was the great spirit of whose 
appearance he had warned them before, that he had come 
to carry them all away, and that they had better keep 
together and answer the summons in a body. Thereupon 
they all rushed into the hut, securing the door, and 
nothing would induce them to open it and come out, 
even though their companions outside told them the 
danger was over. At length the missionary came up and 
explained the phenomenon to them, telling them that the 
winged spirit was the work of man and that there were 
in it people such as they saw before them. The door 
was then cautiously opened, and when the terrified 
medicine-man saw that no damage had been done to the 
mountain, and that, so far as he could see, the world 
in general was unchanged, he came out to hear the 
wonderful tale of the men who could fly through the air 
at such a speed and in so precarious a manner. '' The 
white man is indeed wonderful," was his comment. 
"The magic he works is dreadful and he is greatly to 
be feared." 

Though on this journey to Jinja I found it impossible 
to do any regular work, it gave me an opportunity of 

284 The Soul of Central Africa 

seeing a part of Busoga and parts of Elgon on the 
eastern side, where there were two or three small tribes 
that I might not otherwise have seen. I saw some of 
the Bagesu in their more isolated homes and less civilized 
state and was thereby helped to form correct opinions 
about them. I was interested in seeing how thickly the 
Bagesu peopled the slopes of the spur Koko. Here they 
have large parts of the mountain under cultivation and 
grow their millet in fields which reach to the tops of the 
mountain peaks very much as the Bakyiga do on the 
slopes of the mountains in Kigezi. Mr. Eden and Mr. 
Cox meanwhile were kept busy, for at each stage the 
local chiefs gathered together for a conference. 

The country is divided into districts of about ten or 
twelve miles, each of .which has its hall or meeting-house, 
where the chiefs gather at intervals to meet the District 
Commissioner, who tries cases, hears complaints, and 
gives advice on administrative matters and also on 
problems connected with the cultivation and disposal of 
the different crops grown in the district. The chiefs 
have the powers of magistrates, but records have to be 
kept of all cases, and these are inspected by the District 
Commissioner, who either confirms the decisions or, if 
dissatisfied, orders another trial. He, in his turn, may 
refer difficult cases to a yet higher court. In each 
district there are also government agents in whose hands 
is the duty of collecting the poll-tax by which the old 
hut-tax has wisely been replaced. These agents are also 
expected to be law clerks and have to attend the gather- 
ings of the chiefs, while all cases are tried in their presence 
that they may see the law properly administered. 

When the Provincial Commissioner visits a district he 
is accompanied by the District Commissioner, who con- 

A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 285 

venes the meetings and keeps his superior officer informed 
of all that has been going on. I found it interesting to 
observe the crowds of chiefs who gathered at each place 
to meet these officers, but they were too much occupied 
for me to attempt any detailed investigations, for not 
only had they to attend the conferences, but afterwards 
they had to accompany the Commissioners on a round of 
inspection to see the crops and examine any improvements 
and changes. These visits serve a double purpose, for 
not only is supervision thus exercised over the local chiefs, 
but the natives are persuaded and encouraged to further 
endeavours in the cultivation of cotton, rubber, or any 
other crop which the Government advises them to grow. 
The officers have to be ready to give advice on the methods 
of growing such crops and on the best means of disposing 
of them. 

Under the supervision of the Government agents the 
natives have opened up the country, cutting roads 
throughout the province and making it comparatively easy 
to cycle for many miles. Many of the chiefs have pur- 
chased bicycles, and at times as many as twenty or 
thirty machines would be seen outside the hall in which 
a conference was going on. Here and there a more 
enterprising young chief has even learned the art of 
managing a motor-cycle, on which he can ride quite long 
distances over many parts of the country, though even 
the better roads are but tracks about five yards wide, 
where the trees and scrub have been cleared and streams 
bridged to allow bicycles or other light traffic to pass 
with comfort. During the dry season these roads are 
quite usable, but after prolonged rain they are so soft as 
to be impassable for wheeled traffic. A motor road has 
been built from Mbale which, to avoid the swamps of 

a86 The Soul of Central Africa 

the Mpologoma River, runs to Mjanji on Berkeley Bay, 
an arm of Lake Victoria, where a small steamer calls for 
export goods and brings supplies for the Indian shop- 
keepers and the people at Mbale. This road is properly 
built and metalled over its whole length so that motors 
can use it at any time of the year. 

During our tour round Elgon I found at various 
places old Baganda friends who invariably wished to com- 
memorate our meeting by making me presents and were 
greatly distressed at their inabiUty to find anything they 
considered suitable at such short notice. In two cases 
their attempts to show their pleasure were really 
touching, though, it must be confessed, somewhat 
embarrassing. One man, quite a poor peasant, intro- 
duced himself to me by telling me that I had taught him 
many years before in preparation for his baptism. 
Wishing, as he said, to make me a small present, he 
pressed into my hand three rupees, .which he hoped I 
would accept instead of a sheep. He was quite grieved 
when I refused, explaining that I could not take money 
which he had such difficulty in earning. I told him, how- 
ever, that, if he could find and bring to me some native 
ornament, I would gladly accept it and keep it in 
remembrance of him. He went off cheered, but, as we 
moved on directly, I did not see him again. Two days 
later another man, this time one of the Government 
agents in charge of a district, came, and, after greeting 
me and expressing his joy at the meeting, watched for 
an opportunity of speaking to me unobserved by the 
District Commissioner. At length, under the pretext 
of wishing me good-bye, he pushed a paper into my hand, 
saying it was his gift to me as an old friend. It con- 
tained fifteen rupees, so that again I .was forced to dis- 

A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 287 

appoint a friend by refusing to take money. I was im- 
pressed, however, by the gratitude of these men, whom 
I had not seen for years, but who were thus anxious to 
make some return for the part I had taken in their early 
training. These sums were to them considerable amounts 
and in both cases must have represented the savings of 
many weeks. 

When we reached the river Mpologoma, which is a 
tributary of the Nile and joins it at Lake Kioga, we had 
to part with Mr. Cox, the Commissioner of the Elgon 
District, and another District Commissioner from Jinja 
met us on the opposite bank of the river. This part of 
the river is more like a stretch of swamp than what our 
English minds picture as a river, for it is a mile wide 
and is full of papyrus, which grows fully twelve feet high. 
At various points there are ferry-men who make their 
living by carrying people over and who keep clear paths 
through the growth for the passage of their canoes. These 
canoes are of the dug-out type and are cut from tree- 
trunks twenty to thirty feet long. These are hollowed 
out, leaving substantial ends and strong sides. Some are 
four feet wide and will carry at a time as many as three 
cows together with the men to guard them and the 

On the night before crossing .we camped within reach 
of the ferry, and next morning one set of boys, with 
materials for breakfast, went on ahead at about four 
o'clock, leaving us to follow at daybreak. This is the 
usual method adopted by these officers on their tours : 
after early morning tea in camp they leave at daybreak, 
while the boys who have gone on before prepare breakfast 
by the roadside some four or five miles farther on. When 
travelling alone I never attempted this but had breakfast 

288 The Soul of Central Africa 

in camp and then went on ahead for the whole stage,, 
refreshing myself with hot coffee from my thermos-flask 
and biscuits or sandwiches, and leaving all my porters, 
boys and goods to come on as quickly as possible after 
me. When we reached the ferry several canoes were in 
readiness awaiting us, and we soon embarked with our 
bicycles and our canoe was pushed off. The passage 
through the tall papyrus was some four to eight yards 
wide and at first, the day being still young, it was 
pleasant. After a short time, however, mosquitoes ap- 
peared and we were kept busy brushing them from our 
faces, necks, and hands, for they attacked us mercilessly 
and all our endeavours to protect ourselves could not 
prevent them from settling and getting frequent bites. 
It took fully an hour to punt the canoe to the opposite 
shore, which was about a mile distant, and we were glad 
when at length we reached it. 

In no place in the river is there any clear running 
water, the tall papyrus holds the water up and it has to 
find its way under the roots of the growing vegetation. 
In some places I noted by the punting-pole one man 
used that there was some ten feet of water, and I suspect 
that under the placid surface there would be found a 
swift current. The stream is the home of the hippo- 
potamus, which, though it seems slow and ungainly on 
land, will show, in defence of its young, a rapidity of 
movement and a fierceness which are astonishing. I 
have known men on shore attacked and killed by one 
before they could escape. 

The place where we breakfasted that morning was 
about a mile from the river, and it was the worst place 
for a meal I ever visited. We were pestered by 
mosquitoes to such an extent that it was with difficulty 

A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 289 

,we got food into our mouths. They were of all sorts 
and sizes, from the huge, noisy pests to almost invisible 
specks, but all seemed alike in the rapidity with which 
they took advantage of the moments when our hands 
were occupied with food. I was never at any time more 
annoyed by these pests, though I passed in the course 
of the expedition through some districts which were 
noted for them. 

The remainder of the journey to Iganga was much 
like the former part to the Mpologoma River. Here I 
saw some tribes closely connected with the Basoga, 
among whom I now intended to do a little work. When 
we reached Iganga I found it had become an Indian 
village, with shops and houses on each side of the road. 
It is a centre for the cotton trade, and here the natives 
for miles around bring their cotton for sale, and it is 
ginned, packed, and pressed into bales for dispatch to 
the coast. The shops contain chiefly cotton materials, 
lamps, kerosene oil, and so forth, which are sold to the 
natives, who are thus encouraged to desire and buy 
all manner of things which they could very well do 

From Iganga we finished our journey to Jinja, a 
distance of thirty-nine miles, by motor. I got the loads 
off in the early morning by a shorter cross-country route, 
and we followed later, reaching Jinja about ten o'clock. 
Here I spent several days gathering information 
from some of the old men of Luba's district. I was 
entertained during the time by Mrs. Eden, whose 
kindness made me feel quite at home, and who even 
permitted me to interview my native informants in her 

This part of Busoga is no longer merely a native 

290 The Soul of Central Africa 

settlement, but has grown into an important town with 
European and Indian settlers, for here is the terminus 
of the Busoga railway which unites Lake Kioga and 
Lake Victoria, and here steamers call weekly, bringing 
passengers and goods from the coast. When I first came 
here the only point of interest was the Ripon Falls and 
the only habitations were a few scattered huts where 
lived the men who kept the ferry. It was near this place 
that Bishop Hannington was murdered at the instigation 
of King Mwanga of Buganda, the son and successor of 
the famous Mutesa. Luba, the actual perpetrator of the 
deed, was only an instrument in the hands of Mwanga, for 
the part of Busoga of which he was the ruler was a tribu- 
tary state of Buganda. At that time this part of the 
country was prosperous and wealthy ; its plantain groves 
were noted, the population was large, and the people 
possessed fine herds of cows and flocks of goats and sheep. 
In those days they bred a special kind of goat, noted for its 
long hair, which was used chiefly for making head-dresses 
and for binding round the shields of warriors. They also 
had a kind of sheep with a long, fat tail, which trailed 
on the ground as it walked. The poorer people used to 
cut off pieces of the fat tail whenever they had a craving 
for meat but did not wish to kill a sheep. They also 
possessed some of the finest canoes on Lake Victoria, 
surpassing even the Baganda in the art of canoe-building. 
They built them in portions, the keel being one long 
tree, while the sides were built up from it with boards 
stitched together with strong creepers, which, when 
dry, became like wire. These canoes were often fifty 
to sixty feet long and had twenty-four paddlers, 
who sat facing the bows and used short leaf-blade 

A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 291 

The history of Busoga has been a chequered one, for 
it .was for many years tributary to one or other of the 
neighbouring states. The king of Bunyoro was for a 
long time its overlord; in fact, it was so much a part 
of his kingdom that new chiefs had to be approved of 
by him and had to come to him to be confirmed in their 
oflSces just as the chiefs of his own country did. Each 
year the chiefs would send to the king some gift of 
cattle, slaves and sheep, but no definite or compulsory 
taxes were levied. During these years the Basoga 
adopted certain of the customs of the superior tribe, and 
one of these, the custom of extracting the front teeth 
in the lower jaw at puberty, still survives. Later the 
Baganda wrested part of the country from the Banyoro, 
and three districts, one of which was that ruled by Luba, 
became subject to the king of Buganda and remained 
under him until the British occupation. The Baganda 
insisted on a yearly tribute of slaves, ivory and cattle, 
and sent collectors to gather it. These tax-gatherers 
seized the opportunity to feather their own nests, and 
the Basoga endured a good deal of hardship at their 
hands. The Basoga chiefs sent their sons to the Buganda 
court to be brought up as pages to the king, and from 
among these lads the king chose those who he believed 
would be his loyal subjects and made them chiefs over 
their country. 

In Buganda there were lands assigned to the ruling 
chiefs of Busoga, where they could take up their abode 
whenever they wished to visit the king, but such visits 
were costly affairs. The chief who went always wanted 
to travel and live in state, and he had to give handsome 
presents not only to the king but to the chief Sekibobo, 
through whose district he had to pass on his way to the 

292 The Soul of Central Africa 

capital of Buganda. The peasants were expected to 
provide their chiefs with these presents, and, though they 
naturally grumbled at the time, it did not take them 
more than a few months to make good their loss, for 
the country was then most prosperous. When I first 
knew it, which was under these conditions, food was so 
abundant that I was not allowed to buy plantains, but 
was told to take what I wanted wherever I happened 
to be, and not to trouble people by getting them to carry 
food for my men. When I first visited Luba he 
wanted to give me a large present of ivory and was 
unhappy because t refused it, for to his mind the only 
possible explanation of my refusal was that my 
motives were unfriendly. It took a long time to make 
him understand what my being there as a missionary 

Things are very different now. The old man Luba 
has been dead many years, the country is in a state of 
poverty, and the people are in a miserable condition, for 
famine has attacked them more than once. The country 
has been severed from Buganda and is ruled by its own 
chiefs, though of course under British supervision, but 
British government has so far been unable to improve 
matters. The difficulty is that the people are as yet 
hardly fitted for self-government and do not understand 
in the least what it implies. For generations they have 
been in subjection to some powerful overlord who ruled 
them autocratically. Such a ruler never had any difficulty 
in enforcing his will, for the small tribes of Busoga have 
always been so unfriendly and so jealous of each other 
that, should one tribe prove refractory, all the outside 
ruler had to do was to induce some neighbouring tribe 
to attack and subjugate it, a task that any tribe was 



A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 293 

always willing and anxious to undertake. It was thus 
that Mwanga always managed to keep Busoga in order ; 
when trouble arose, he would send a few soldiers to a 
neighbouring friendly state and invite them to assist in 
invading and plundering the rebellious district. Such an 
expedition added to his wealth, for not only were there 
captured slaves and cattle, but the attacking chief also 
sent him a present in gratitude for being allo>ved to 

Round about Jinja we find a different state of affairs, 
for it is a progressive Government station connected 
by road with various parts of the Northern Province, 
and there are a number of settlers who grow cotton 
and other produce for export. I was anxious to 
visit the Ripon Falls to see what progress had been 
made and to find whether any steps had been taken to 
make use of this great flow of water for the production 
of power for any purpose. I only noticed two changes 
in all the years since I had been there last. One was 
that a telegraph line had been carried over the Victoria 
Nile below the falls, and the other that the path leading 
down to the falls was very worn and had become a favourite 
evening walk, especially among the Indians, who played 
their card games as they sat on the rocks. In other 
respects everything seemed the same, and no attempt 
appeared to have been made to utilize the water-power. 
While I was in Uganda a request was issued for estimates 
for the erection of a power-station to supply Jinja and 
Kampala with electricity, but I have not heard how the 
matter progressed. Below the Ripon Falls there is a series 
of smaller rapids, now known as the Owen Falls, which 
surpass in the beauty of their scenery even the better 
known Ripon Falls. 

294 The Soul of Central Africa 

Fish abound in the river, and it is an interesting 
sight to see shoals of them trying to jump the falls. At 
one time there used to be at the Ripon Falls a set of 
fishermen who gained their living by diving into the 
turbulent waters to capture the large fish that had been 
carried down the falls from the lake and had been 
stunned by the force of the water. These men worked 
in pairs, and their method was a dangerous one. The 
fish was speared with a long pole, whereupon one of the 
men, with a line and a hook attached to his waist, slid 
or climbed down the pole till he reached the fish, when 
he stuck the hook into it and climbed back. The whole 
process took only a few seconds, but it required skill 
and practice, to say nothing of strength of nerve, to 
venture down into those seething waters. These men 
are no longer to be seen, and the only fishers which 
remain are the diver-birds or cormorants, which plunge 
into the boiling mass and seize their prey. Sometimes 
one of these birds can be seen diving into the compara- 
tively placid water above the falls, where he sees a fish 
struggling against the increasing rush of water; he 
vanishes, only to reappear from the frothing waves well 
below the fall, where, still holding his prey, he rides as 
calmly as though being dashed with that vast volume of 
water over the fall and tossed to and fro in the whirlpool 
beneath were no more to him than a dip in a quiet pool. 
The shoals of fish which gather in some of the pools 
beneath the falls on their way to the upper reaches are 
an amazing sight; they fill the pool until it looks as if 
one might walk across on them. 

One thing which repaid my visit to the falls was the 
discovery of fiint-chips. I sent the specimens to the 
Government geologist, who confirmed my impression that 



A Journey Round Elgon— Busoga 295 

they .were actually relics of a stone age, though no other 
traces of inhabitants belonging to such an era have been 
found in this district. The place was evidently an old 
quarry, and the fragments were stones that had been 
discarded and chippings from various stone implements 
in the making. 



A Visit to Entebbe— Kamuli— Roman Catholic Missions— Education 
— Surgery — Departure from Uganda — General Remarks on 
Uganda— Transport— Benefits of British Rule— The Officers- 
Cultivation of the Land— The Missions— The White Man in 

WHILE I was at Jinja Mr. Eden had to go to 
Kampala on business, and I gladly availed myself 
of the opportunity of accompanying him in order 
to visit Entebbe again. I had not yet had an opportunity 
of an interview with the Governor, Sir Robert Coryn- 
don, who on my first arrival at Kampala, at the beginning 
of the expedition, was on the point of leaving Entebbe 
on tour, prior to his departure for England. I also 
wanted to see another friend of my earlier days there — 
Sir James Carter, the Chief Justice, who was about to 
leave Uganda to take up new duties in the Nyassa Colony, 
formerly German East Africa. 

I hoped to be able to get through from Jinja to 
Entebbe in one day, but a chapter of accidents on our 
journey made this impossible. We crossed the arm of 
Lake Victoria by the steam ferry which now runs above 
the Ripon Falls, and reached Buganda to find that the 
motor which should have met us was not there. After 
waiting for quite an hour, Mr. Eden sent a messenger 
back to his office to find out by telegraph what had 
happened and let the authorities at Kampala know that 


Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 297 

no car had appeared. In the meantime, however, the 
car turned up, having been delayed for over an hour by 
a burst tyre. It was thus nearly noon before we left 
the ferry, and for some time all went well. Then 
engine trouble developed, and we crawled along, with 
frequent stops, until we were about twenty miles from 
Kampala, where the car stopped for a long time and 
was most unwilling to start again. However, at last it 
was persuaded to move and we got on, very slowly, for 
another mile or two, when we saw another car approach- 
ing. This, to our rehef, turned out to be one sent from 
Kampala to find out what had become of the first, so 
we joyfully transferred our bags and ourselves to it, and 
reached Kampala without more delay than that occa- 
sioned by the state of the road. There had been a heavy 
shower of rain, and, though the road is metalled, the 
comers are very sharp and had to be negotiated with 
care. The drivers of both the cars were natives who had 
learned their business during the war. We reached 
Kampala too late for me to go on to Entebbe, and I 
put up at the hotel there for the night. 

Next day I spent long hours trying to find a dis- 
engaged car to take me on, and had just succeeded when 
I learned that the Governor's car had been sent for me. 
I arranged for the one I had already engaged to come 
to Entebbe a day or two later and bring me back, and 
then set out about four o'clock, reaching Entebbe about 

I had a most useful talk with Sir Robert Coryndon, 
the Governor, who had shown his interest throughout 
the expedition by requesting his ofiicers, wherever I 
went, to help me by any means in their power. I found 
that he thoroughly recognized the value of anthropo- 

298 The Soul of Central Africa 

logical research to those in authority over primitive 
peoples, and realized how necessary it is to investigate 
the intricacies of their social and religious customs, in 
order that they may be governed and civilized w^ith the 
minimum of friction, and that their usefulness to man- 
kind in general may be increased to the utmost possible 
extent. Sir James Carter, the Chief Justice, has always 
been an interested student of anthropology, and his 
knowledge has undoubtedly been of the greatest value 
to him in his legal duties, not only in enabling him to 
understand the real nature of crimes which to a European 
look like wilful murder or deeds of personal vengeance, 
but also in cases of disputed inheritance and land tenure 
and innumerable other matters, where the power of 
appreciating the native point of view is essential before 
a fair and unbiased judgment can be formed. 

On my return to Jinja I was rejoined by Mr. Eden 
at Kampala. We drove back to the Ripon Falls and 
crossed to Busoga, taking a little over five hours to 
accomplish a journey which in the old days meant a 
week's marching along rough tracks with the baggage 
on the heads of porters. 

Though on my departure from Jinja I realized that 
I had now no more difficult and arduous journeys to 
make, yet it was with feelings of regret that I parted 
from Mr. and Mrs. Eden, whose hospitality had been 
so pleasant, and entered the train which was to take me 
to Kamuli, in the heart of Busoga, where I intended to 
spend a week with an old friend, the Rev. H. Brewer, 
in order to inquire into various Busoga matters. At 
Kamuli there is, in addition to the Church Missionary 
Society station, a Roman Cathohc mission, with EngUsh 
nuns, who kindly allowed me to see over their station 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 299 

and observe their methods of work. The nunnery is 
connected with Mill Hill, and has among its workers some 
enthusiastic young women, who assured me that they 
had made up their minds to devote their lives to this 
work and did not expect ever to return to England. In 
addition to the ordinary school routine, they teach the 
Basoga girls and women to do various kinds of needle- 
work, and they also undertake as much medical work 
as they are able to deal with. I saw several branches of 
the Roman Catholic mission during the expedition, some 
of them controlled by fathers of the Algerian Mission, 
and others by these workers from Mill Hill, and in each 
place there was evident the same marked devotion to 
the cause and the same desire to raise the natives from 
their state of barbarism. It is, I think, a matter for 
regret that the Church Missionary Society and the 
Roman Catholic missions should thus have their stations 
in the same place, when separation would enable them 
to spread the work of evangelization over much wider 
areas of the country. 

At Kamuli there is a splendid school for boys, con- 
ducted on the same lines as other higher grade schools 
in Uganda, which follow the model of English public 
schools. It is impossible to speak too highly of the work 
which has already been accomplished in these schools. 
The strides with which education has advanced among 
these primitive tribes seem almost incredible when one 
considers the wall of old customs and ideas, built up by 
generations of heathenism, which had to be destroyed 
before even a foundation could be laid for sound instruc- 
tion. Already youths from these schools are engaged 
in Government offices, as clerks to chiefs, as salesmen in 
shops, and in many other capacities.. As an encourage- 

300 The Soul of Central Africa 

ment to further progress Sir Peter Mackie has sent two 
beautiful silver challenge cups to be competed for 
annually by all the schools in Uganda. One is to be 
awarded for the best collection of botanical specimens, 
dried and mounted, and the other for the best entomo- 
logical collection. The prize collections are to be sent 
each year to Sir Peter Mackie. The young men from 
our Universities who are giving their lives to this work 
deserve our most grateful thanks and our utmost support, 
for, though the teacher's life may seem a monotonous 
routine of drudgery, it is not only knowledge and 
technical skill that he imparts to the rising generation, 
but also the principles and ideals which will in time 
leaven the whole lump and raise the African nation to 
a higher place in the world. 

Another matter in which I was much interested was 
the skill to which the native surgeons have attained in 
dealing with broken heads and fractured skulls. In this 
region the favourite .weapon is a sling loaded with stones. 
As soon as a quarrel becomes serious, men resort to 
stone-throwing, and the accuracy with which they aim 
these missiles is proved by the dented skulls of many 
victims. The surgeons, therefore, get much practice in 
this kind of work, and they have learned how to remove 
splinters of bone from the brain and thus restore men, 
who would otherjvise die or live insane, to life and 

From Busoga I again took train to join the boat on 
Lake Kioga, and travelled all night, reaching Masindi 
Port by noon next day. Here I was met by Mr. E. 
Haddon, the Provincial Commissioner in Bunyoro, with 
his motor bicycle and side-car, and went straight to 
Masindi. The king of Bunyoro had now recovered, and 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 301 

I was able to complete the work which, owing to his 
illness, I had been compelled to leave. I had also much 
packing to do in order to send goods home by the 
Mombasa route. In addition to my private goods I had 
collected many articles for the museums at home, among 
them being samples of pottery, which, being very easily 
broken, had to be carefully packed. There was, there- 
fore, much to do and but little time in which to do it, 
for the boat which carried passengers over Lake Albert 
to Nimule, in the Sudan, was due three days after my 
arrival in Masindi. If I missed this it meant a delay of 
two weeks, and also that I should miss the company of 
Mr. Marshall Hall and Mr. Frame, the geologists, who 
were travelling down the Nile, and whom I hoped to 
meet on the lake. I therefore hurried matters as much 
as possible, and was ready to start on my homeward 
journey at the end of three days. 

Before I finally leave the Uganda Protectorate it may 
be worth while to give some general account of the state 
of the country as it appeared to me on revisiting it after 
my long absence of some ten years. My tour took me 
into every district of the Protectorate, and I was enabled 
at the different stations to see the methods of adminis- 
tration actually at work. Then I visited the wildest and 
most remote parts, and watched the effects of those 
methods thus far from their centres of operation. Hence 
I can, from my own knowledge and experience, con- 
trast the general state of the country to-day with its 
condition when the British Government first formed the 

To the returning traveller the first difference which 
calls for remark is one which I have mentioned several 
times in the course of this book, namely, the improved 

302 The Soul of Central Africa 

means of transport. When we first reached Uganda, 
some thirty-odd years ago, it meant a journey of over 
three months from Zanzibar, after which we crossed the 
lake in canoes, taking nearly three weeks to reach the 
other side. Now the traveller goes to the lake by train 
in fewer days than it then took months, and he crosses 
the lake by steamer, reaching the heart of Africa in a 
few days. The railway has been one of the most power- 
ful instruments for the abolition of slavery, for it has 
opened up the country and to a great extent done away 
with the necessity for human burden-bearers. 

Next, the traveller, following the main routes, looks 
with surprise and admiration on the countryside, with 
its roads and small towns, where so few years ago there 
were but cattle tracks and grass or mud huts. Here, 
indeed, British enterprise has performed wonders, even 
though the work has hardly as yet progressed beyond the 
experimental stage ; and as he moves from place to place 
the traveller cannot but feel his patriotic pride awakened 
to fresh vigour within him. 

It is not, however, here that we must look for a real 
test of the progress made. After all, may not these 
towns and roads and railways be simply the result of so 
much forced labour for the benefit of the European 
alone? Wherein does the native benefit? Would he 
not gladly get rid of this intrusive white man, with his 
civilization, his law and order? It is extraordinary how, 
even in the mind of a native separated only by a few 
years from barbarism, we find the fallacy of " Good 
Queen Bess's golden days." Here, as elsewhere, we 
find grumblers, elderly men who shake despairing heads 
over the rising generation; but let them be questioned 
by one who knows by experience what the ' ' good old 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 303 

days " really were, and they are forced to admit a degree 
of improvement almost incredible. All over the Pro- 
tectorate, even in its loneliest and wildest districts, 
safety of life and security of property bear witness to 
the beneficent effect of British rule and the spread of 
Christianity. No longer do the secret police of the 
king prowl about the country seizing scores of peaceful, 
innocent people to sacrifice to the insatiable gods. No 
longer may an offended husband murder his wives with- 
out fear of retribution, nor may an autocratic master in 
fits of brutal rage kill and maim his slaves. The peasant 
is no longer a serf subject to every caprice of his master ; 
now he can work for himself and improve his lot, free 
from the constant dread of losing all to some more 
powerful enemy. The growth of law and order, aided 
by the spread of Christianity, has made such things 
impossible. The mental capacity of the native is being 
developed, and his power of application turned into the 
channels of trade and industry. 

These facts bear testimony to the splendid work of the 
young officers who are entrusted with the oversight of 
these districts. They are, I believe, drawn from the 
flower of our universities and public schools and in many 
cases are sons of our rectories and vicarages. They are 
men of great ability and a keen sense of responsibility 
and, above all, they are strictly moral in their lives, a 
fact which increases their influence over the native mind 
to aji extent of which they themselves have little idea. 
The native is shrewd, seeing and understanding more of 
what his superiors do and think than is generally imagined, 
and he draws his own conclusions. The harm which has 
at times been done by the immoral lives of men whose 
nationality places them in the public eye is incalculable. 

304 The Soul of Central Africa 

What progress could be achieved under a man of whom 
a chief could say, as one actually did, "How can we 
respect this man? He makes us bow and kneel before 
him, while at the same time he is followed by bearers 
carrying in a hammock a woman from among our slaves? " 
Such a man may perhaps not appreciate the moral effect 
of his actions, but surely, if it were placed before him, 
he could not help realizing their natural result. By thus 
seizing and appropriating a woman he is, in all proba- 
bility, infringing an old-established and stringent law of 
her tribe, by which both parties in such a union are con- 
demned to death. Report has it that the death of one 
British subject who lost his life in the country was due 
to the perpetration, by another Englishman, of this very 
offence. The oracle which was consulted ordered the 
death of the first white man to pass along a certain path, 
and the innocent man suffered the penalty. 

It is not an easy path that these young men who are 
set in high places in this country have to tread. They 
are far from all congenial society, seeing few other w^hite 
men and for months at a time no white woman, and they 
are exposed to many temptations ; yet there is hardly a 
case where even rumour can find sufficient ground on 
which to base imputations against their moral purity. 
If Britain means to raise these her subjects from bar- 
barism it is men such as these who will help her to 
do it, and this is the high standard which must be kept 
before the eyes of every dweller in distant fields. 

Under these superior officers are native agents of the 
Government who are directly responsible for the main- 
tenance of order in their own districts. It was to me a 
very pleasant experience to meet again and again pupils 
of the early mission-schools filling these posts. Many of 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 305 

them indeed were men whom I had taught to read and 
write, and I met them now occupying important positions, 
in fact representing the British Government, in districts 
far from their own homes, and seizing the opportunity 
thus afforded them of propagating Christianity and 
spreading the influences of civilization. Many of them in 
the outlying districts carry on small schools in their own 
compounds, where, with the help of their house-boys, 
they teach the children and train them in the Christian 

These agents are the men of whom I spoke previously 
as being responsible to the Commissioners for the records 
of the courts and also for the collection of the poll-tax, 
and as pioneers they are doing splendid work. Their task 
is never an easy one, and it is often accompanied by 
actual danger to life, for I have known of some who lost 
their lives in the attempt to open up new districts. It 
takes time before the native can be brought to understand 
the reason for such interference, and the invariable 
demand for labour on some Government road or building 
always raises a storm of abuse and opposition. These 
agents have played a great part in the opening up of 
many distant parts of the Protectorate, and have suc- 
ceeded in making the natives in them amenable to 
government, so that travel in most parts is now safe and 
comparatively easy. Many of the roads have been 
engineered by them without assistance from Europeans, 
and their manipulation of the difficult gradients in 
mountainous parts of the country is really wonderful. 
I attribute the whole of my success in travelling to the 
influence of the District Commissioners over their agents, 
who, in their turn, saw that the native chiefs gave me 
any assistance in their power. The position of these 


3o6 The Soul of Central Africa 

agents and the responsibility which is laid upon them 
show that these Negro-Hamitic races are capable of 
great advances under proper training, and I am convinced 
that the Uganda Protectorate can be developed into one 
of the most important and valuable parts of our Empire. 
Much as our Government is doing to raise the moral 
tone of native social life, the economic conditions, which 
are naturally an important factor in the civilization and 
development of a country, require some further considera- 
tion. I have already pointed out that little or nothing 
has as yet been done to develop or utilize the natural 
tendencies of the people in a country where pastoral 
people predominate and greatly outnumber the agri- 
cultural people. In agricultural pursuits much has cer- 
tainly been done and the results are most promising, but 
the workers are far too few to do much more than test 
the possibilities of the country. Then, too, there is the 
labour question, which is proving a perplexing and difficult 
problem. During my wanderings I heard much from the 
point of view both of the settler and of the native, and 
it struck me that a good deal of the difficulty is due to 
the settlers, who are far too much inclined to try to 
overreach the native and to force him to render them 
assistance at utterly inadequate rates of pay, taking 
advantage of the Government custom of calling out 
labour, paying nominal wages indicated by local authori- 
ties and conditions, and commuting taxes for part pay- 
ment. iWe must not lose sight of the fact that many 
tribes have as yet no use for European articles or money 
and set no value on such things. A hut, a wife, a child 
to care for his ghost after death, and food, which he can 
produce for himself, fulfil all the requirements of hundreds 
of men, and it is not until they are educated that a desire 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 307 

for other things arises. The few rupees he has to furnish 
every year as poll-tax are still to him an intolerable and 
unreasonable imposition, even though they can be pro- 
cured in some easier way than by giving months of hard 
and underpaid labour to some settler. The industrious 
native soon discovers that he can obtain more money 
with less difficulty by devoting himself to the cultivation 
of his own fields. Here again, however, all incentive is 
often destroyed by unfair and unreasonable methods of 
applying the law, necessary and justifiable in itself, which 
compels them to give a certain amount of time to Govern- 
ment work or to work for settlers who have obtained 
Government permission to requisition native labour. The 
result of all this has been a gradual moving away of 
labourers of the better class into districts where they are 
free to work their own land without having to neglect it 
to perform unremunerative tasks. 

In addition to this depopulation a serious matter is 
the existence of a large and ever-increasing surplus of 
women j^ due partly to this migration, partly to the change 
from polygamy to the present enforced monogamy, and 
partly to the preponderance of female births. These 
women, left husbandless and without occupation, have 
nothing to restrain them from a rapid descent into the 
lowest depths of vice. If we take into consideration the 
existence in many places of a low class of Indian trader 
and settler, the natural result is obvious and very terrible. 
Venereal disease is rapidly becoming as much of a scourge 
as sleeping-sickness was a few years ago, and this dreadful 
curse is being carried far and wide. Already the effects 
have been so great that medical authorities report certain 
tribes to be almost extinct, and declare that in a few 
more years some of the finest and most promising of 

3o8 The Soul of Central Africa 

these peoples will have vanished from the face of the 

To turn from the civil to the religious side, I was 
unable to find the same satisfactory development, nor 
.were the mission stations in anything like so flourishing 
a condition as I had hoped. The fault does not lie so. 
much with the devoted men and women engaged in the 
work as it does with the Church at home. We have 
failed to support these hard-working missionaries as we 
should, and the result has been to limit their capacities 
just when almost unlimited possibilities were opening out 
before them. There has been little expansion, for when 
a new opening appeared the opportunity was lost for want 
of a man to go into the new district. The missions ought 
to have led the way into the more remote and troubled 
districts, and by teaching and training to have impressed 
upon the native the meaning and value of the white man's 
presence, before the civil power appeared on the scene to 
confuse and mystify him by the innumerable changes 
which must of necessity accompany it. 

It may be urged that the Church in Uganda is self- 
supporting and should therefore have no need to trouble 
the Church at home, but should have its own agents 
ready to proceed to the evangelization of these districts. 
That is true, but only with respect to the native element, 
for the Uganda Church has never attempted and indeed 
is quite unable to support European workers. An 
inadequate supply of men is sent out by the Church 
Missionary Society, which is the only Protestant mission- 
ary society in Uganda. Had a greater number of men 
been sent out, and had those sent been specially trained 
for particular branches of the work, much more could 
have been accomplished. For example, no translation of 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 309 

any importance has been undertaken since the death of 
Mr. G. L. Pilkington, who translated the Bible into 

The Church in Uganda has been handicapped also by 
the ever-increasing demand for educated natives to take 
up posts under the Government. The pay offered by 
Government has been so much greater than anything the 
religious bodies could afford that naturally the best 
products of the Church's training have been diverted to 
civil work. Another cause of this lack of workers is one 
with which I have already dealt, namely the difference 
between the training supplied in the secular schools and 
that of the religious schools. The better class of youth 
is attracted to the schools which supply men for the civil 
offices, for the religious schools give a training which is 
noticeably inferior. The men who go to the latter, and 
,who probably cannot afford the better training, struggle 
practically unaided to pay their way, only to find, when 
they qualify as catechists, that they may be sent to work 
in some place where it is impossible to live on their pay. 
Should they desire to proceed to the pastorate they are 
faced by further years of hard work, after which they 
are expected to live on pay which is inadequate even for 
a single man. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if 
catechists often betake themselves to other work where 
their earnings will enable them to marry and live in 
comfort. There is thus a constant weeding out of the 
best men, leaving the poorest intellects and most in- 
efficient workers to carry on the work of the Church. 
Even the day-school masters in the primary schools, who, 
by the way, are paid by the same native Church, are 
better educated and command higher pay than men who 
enter the pastorate. The natural outcome is not only a 

310 The Soul of Central Africa 

lowering of efficiency but a lowering of the esteem in 
which pastors in general are held. These pastors are a 
body of men drawn from the lower classes and set to 
perform duties for which they are mentally and socially 
unfitted, with the natural result that they are held in 
contempt by the better educated secular workers. 

It is also very evident in Buganda, the original home 
of so much devotion, where the early Church suffered 
such terrible hardships, that the youths of the rising 
generation are not following in the footsteps of their 
^worthy fathers. The eagerness of those early days for 
truth and knowledge is gone, save in a very few cases, 
and the young people seem to be quite satisfied if they 
can ape European dress, cultivate rude and unpleasant 
manners, and speak a horrible conglomerate which they 
imagine to be English. It was in Kampala and amongst 
the women that the general lowering of tone was most 
evident, and to me most painful, for in the old days the 
manners of the Baganda women were truly courteous and 
modest, and the unpleasant vulgarity which is now pre- 
valent was indeed an unwelcome change. 

These are some of the difficulties with which the few 
missionaries who are labouring in that great field have 
to contend, and it is not a matter for surprise if they 
make but little headway. I hope, however, that no one 
will take these remarks to imply that I consider that 
the secular work should be neglected for the sake of 
pushing on the religious work. The workers on the civil 
side must push on farther and still farther, for, though 
much has been accomplished, it is but a beginning of 
all that has yet to be done. But we must see to it that 
an end is put to a condition of affairs under which 
Christian workers are held in contempt by conceited 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 311 

youths .whose knowledge, though but a smattering, is yet 
superior to that of their pastors. The status of the 
church- worker must be raised until he can take his proper 
place and go forth armed at all points to maintain the 
cause which he has at heart. 

There are certainly native teachers who are doing 
wonderful things in the far parts of the Protectorate. 
I have already spoken of the pioneers in Teso country ; 
and all along the shores of Lake Salisbury are to be 
found catechists who make up in zeal and devotion for 
the limitations of their training, and who have proved 
themselves beyond any possible doubt the right men for 
work in such places. It is when the general progress 
of mission work is set beside what the civil .workers 
have accomplished that we see the necessity for drastic 
changes. The men and women who are there are doing 
noble work, but they are far too few to cope with the 
needs of the stations and are quite unable to visit the 
distant parts of the large districts which they are expected 
to supervise. It is manifestly impossible for a man to 
do industrial work, teach in school, undertake the train- 
ing of teachers, and spread the Gospel at one and the 
same time; yet this is what is expected of numbers of 
them, with the inevitable result that, work as they may 
and do, nothing can be done well. 

Another pressing and urgent need is the supply of 
clergy for the white populations in the larger centres, 
who are at present left to the casual ministrations of some 
already overworked missionary. The men whose life's 
work brings them out here are left without any spiritual 
oversight and with no one to whom they may turn when 
alone in illness — the most trying time for a young man 
far from home. Where the Government stations are 

312 The Soul of Central Africa 

situated, Sunday is a day of rest, but the workers^ seldom 
have any opportunity of worship, and there is nothing 
to raise their minds from the occupations of the week to 
spiritual matters. If such help were provided it would 
confer, too, a secondary benefit, for it would impress 
upon the native mind that to the white man religion 
means something, and that the Government official, the 
settler and the resident, as well as the missionary, believe 
in and worship God. I can leave it to the reader to 
imagine how such provision could be made invaluable 
to the State by raising the standard of life and by 
keeping before each worker his individual duty and 

With the formation of the Uganda Protectorate there 
have been opened up hundreds of miles of country suit- 
able for the production of commodities which the world 
requires and which, at present, must be produced by 
Europeans. The country, however, is not and, so far as 
I can see, never will be a permanent home for the white 
man. He may go there and do great things, but he 
cannot raise a family and settle there for good. He 
himself must be prepared to return home for rest, and he 
must never think that his wife can live there for ever. 
His children, too, must be brought up in a more con- 
genial climate and among purer surroundings, for, apart 
from climatic conditions, the country is no place for 
children, especially at the impressionable age when they 
are approaching years of discretion; in spite of every 
precaution, constant association with the natives, who 
are, in regard to the sexual instincts, as yet but Httle 
higher than the animals, is bound insidiously to sow 
seeds of moral corruption. Thus the man who goes out 
to such a country to improve his own lot, to live a happy 

Busoga— Farewell to Uganda 313 

and prosperous life in a new and unspoilt land, will find 
himself disappointed; but he who goes fully realizing 
the difficulties, but facing them for the good of the 
Empire, the people and the country, may hope to do a 
great and useful work for the good of man and to the 
glory of God. 



The Road from Nimule to Rejaf — The Half-caste Problem — Rejaf — 
Scenery — Fashoda — Missions — Agriculture — Khartoum and Om- 
durman — Gordon College — Strength of Islam — Irrigation — Cairo 
and France. 

AS my work of investigation among the tribes of the 
Uganda Protectorate, or rather as much of it 
^ as circumstances permitted, was now finished, I 
started at once on my homeward way, leaving Masindi 
on September 28, 1920, for Butiaba, the port on Lake 
Albert. Mr. Haddon was kind enough to offer to take 
me in his side-car, a very much easier and quicker means 
of travel than the motor lorry. We set out early in order 
that he might have time to do some business in Butiaba 
before returning to Masindi. The motor lorry was to 
follow with my boys and goods, an arrangement which, 
as it turned out, was fortunate, for when we had run 
some twelve miles the coupling-link of the driving-belt 
broke. We had no spare link, and were without any 
sort of material, even strong string, with which to repair 
the damage. However, after we had waited an hour by 
the road-side, the motor van came up, and we arranged 
for it to take the bicycle and side-car in tow to the lake. 
To relieve to some extent the strain on the towing-rope, 
I got into the lorry. We reached Butiaba at noon, only 
to find a loose rope with no Mr. Haddon and no bicycle. 


The Journey Home 315 

He had let go his end of the rope at some side road near 
a settler's house, and I saw no more of him. I went to 
the officer in charge of the station, told him of Mr. 
Haddon's plight, and remained with him until evening, 
when I went on board the Sir Samuel Baker, which was 
due to start early on the next morning. It was getting 
dark before any other passengers joined the ship. 

The voyage from Butiaba to Nimule, where we 
started on our journey on foot to Rejaf, took two days. 
On our way from the boat to the camp at Nimule we 
saw a puff-adder which was busy swallowing a large frog. 
It was curious to see the frog struggling to make its way 
down the reptile's throat, evidently taking that for the 
way of escape. We watched until the frog had disap- 
peared, and then one of the sailors struck the snake on 
the head and killed it. I cut it open with my knife, and 
out came the frog and sat blinking as though astonished 
to see the light again. I photographed the snake in the 
process of swallowing the frog and the frog as it came 
out, but unfortunately the films were bad, and I lost 
the record of this strange and interesting sight. 

On landing at Nimule we entered the Sudan, and 
had to obtain Egyptian money for paying our porters 
and for any other purposes. We later found, however, 
that we had little need for money until we reached 
Rejaf, for along this route people are few and far 
between. I had only my cook and the tent boy with 
me, and, owing to the unsatisfactory and indirect means 
of communication between Nimule and Uganda, the 
request which I had sent for porters had evidently not 
arrived — at any rate, it had certainly received no atten- 
tion. We had no time to spare if we were to catch the 
Nile boat at Rejaf and avoid having to wait two weeks 

3i6 The Soul of Central Africa 

at that uninteresting place, so we determined to do our 
best with the men who were provided for Mr. Marshall 
Hall and his companion, Mr. Frame, whose application 
had been made some days earlier than mine. We 
marched in the early morning to avoid the heat and the 
flies, which are a serious pest all over this district. It 
is largely owing to them that no animals, not even goats, 
are kept, and the natives live in a miserable condition. 
As we were short of carriers, we took five marches to 
reach Rejaf, though with good porters we could easily 
have done it in three. The road is little used except by 
the few people travelling, as we were, between Rejaf 
and Nimule ; yet with very little trouble it could be made 
a good motor road, and the whole journey could easily 
be made in two stages. It is, however, doubtful whether 
the traffic would be sufficient to repay the expenditure. 
It is impossible to make this journey by water, for there 
are many cataracts on this part of the Nile which follows 
a very circuitous course full of serpentine twists and 
bends. The further journey down the Nile from Rejaf 
to Khartoum is a long and very expensive one, and I 
do not think there is much possibility of this becoming 
a popular trade route. 

On one march I met a few Baganda returning to 
Nimule from Rejaf, where they had been to see their 
master off on his way out of the country. I saw that 
one of the boys was carrying a white baby asleep, and, 
naturally expecting that Europeans would be near, asked 
him whether a white woman was following. He told 
me there was no white woman, but that the baby's 
mother was not far behind. Shortly afterwards two 
women, evidently Baganda, both dressed in a kind of 
nondescript European garb and wearing shoes, came up. 



The Journey Home 317 

I soon realized that they had been Uving .with white men, 
and that this poor child was the unhappy result of the 
union, and was doomed to a life fraught with uncertainty 
and difficulty. The father had evidently no intention of 
doing anything to help his child, who was left to be 
brought up among natives. Here is another evil which 
might well make a man refrain from consorting with 
native women to gratify his lust. Consider the con- 
ditions under which the child of such a union lives. 
What is his position? He has no place among his 
mother's people, who would not accept him even if he 
could become one of them. His father casts him off and 
thinks no more about him, while his father's people hold 
him in utter contempt, ''that nigger" being the scorn- 
ful term applied not nearly so often to the pure native 
as to the half-caste. Has he not, as he grows to years 
of discretion, a right to resent bitterly the wrong done 
to him? Is it surprising if he hates and distrusts the 
white man? To add fuel to the flame of his hate, it is 
usually the man who most despises the natives and never 
addresses them without abusive terms who will cohabit 
with their women, regardless of consequences and of the 
responsibilities incurred. When we consider the misery 
thus caused, to say nothing of the danger to the future 
prosperity of the Empire, it is clear that British law 
with regard to such temporary mixed unions needs to 
be made much more stringent. 

On this journey I shared my bicycle with Mr. Frame. 
I rode on ahead for some way, and then left the machine 
by the road-side ; when he reached it, he mounted, passed 
me, and in his turn left the bicycle some way farther on 
and proceeded on foot towards the camp. In the Sudan, 
as we had no tents with us, we had to stop always at 

3i8 The Soul of Central Africa 

the recognized camping places, where there are rest- 
houses. Caretakers guard these camps and keep them 
tidy, but they are hardly adapted for the use of ladies, 
as they are nothing more than open sheds with little 
chance of privacy. Only a little care and attention are 
needed to make them much more comfortable for 
tourists ; but our party were all accustomed to roughing 
it and knew what to expect, so that they satisfied our 

My last march was marked by an amusing incident. 

I was well in advance of the rest of the party with the 

tent boy, who trotted before me to tell me the state 

of the path, a necessary precaution as I was riding the 

bicycle in the dim light of the moon. We came upon 

a river in which the water was about three feet deep, 

and I was preparing to wade through it when my boy 

offered to go first with the bicycle in order to see what 

it was like. He reached the opposite bank, some twenty 

yards away, and called to me to wait and he would carry 

me over, so that I need not get wet. He came back 

declaring he could easily do it, and we started off. We 

crossed quite safely, but when we reached the opposite 

side I found that the bank was high and slippery. The 

boy put his head against this bank, evidently expecting 

me to crawl over his head on to it. This, however, was 

impossible, so I suggested that he should turn round and 

set me down on the bank. In turning he slipped and 

sat down, plunging us both up to our necks in water. 

He was very perturbed and full of apologies and regrets, 

but our plight was so ridiculous that I could do nothing 

but laugh. It was only four o'clock in the morning, 

and I knew the porters must be some distance behind, 

so I decided to minimize the risk of a chill by going on. 



The Journey Home 319 

Fortunately, none of the articles in my pockets had 
suffered and my .watch had not stopped. I waited for 
the others when I reached the Nile crossing, and got 
a change, about eleven o'clock, before going over to 

At various points we had been able to see a little of 
the native tribes of this district, who are commonly 
called Nilotics. Of those we saw, I found the Bari the 
most interesting, and I believe they will prove to be the 
most intelligent of the tribes who inhabit the valley of 
the Nile between Lake Albert and Rejaf. At Rejaf 
there is a small station with a few native habitations 
scattered around. This was the southern limit of 
Gordon's sway when he governed the Sudan, and the 
boundary is marked by the hill known as Gordon's Hill. 
There is now a service of motor vans between Rejaf 
and the Belgian State. It is managed by an English- 
man, and his employees are Baganda boys, of whom he 
spoke very highly, saying he had found them far more 
satisfactory than the men from Khartoum whom he had 
previously employed. I saw some of these youths, and 
found that they were Christians, trained in the mission 
schools, who had obtained their knowledge of motors 
during the war. Though they were in a strange land 
and had to sign an agreement for a number of years, 
they were eager to get such posts, for they were well 
paid and could thus save with a view to marriage on their 
return home. 

The steamer from Khartoum reached Rejaf the 
morning after we did, and we went on board at once. 
I had to dispose of the few remnants of my travelling- 
kit, which I had kept for this journey and which I now 
sold. The bicycle which had done such yeoman service 

320 The Soul of Central Africa 

I gave to my cook, who took it back to Uganda with 
him, and, having paid off both the boys, I bade them 
good-bye and took my place on board, hoping to learn 
something of the peoples in the Sudan, who were till 
that time little more than names to me. 

The appearance of the settlement at Rejaf and the 
view from Gordon's Hill, which commands many miles 
of flat country, did not give me the impression that the 
part of Africa we were about to enter would afford much 
beauty of scenery, and as we passed day after day along 
the swampy river, surrounded on all sides by reeds and 
papyrus, and with nothing but a low-lying, monotonous 
country stretching into the distance, it became plain to 
me that the interior is not only far more attractive as 
regards scenery to a European eye, but also holds more 
promise both for man and beast. I was disappointed, 
moreover, to see so few natives. Wherever we stopped 
to take in fuel a few poverty-stricken looking men, 
employed as wood-cutters, would gather round the boat, 
but otherwise there was but little life visible. The land 
is rapidly being rendered more desolate and barren by 
the cutting down of trees for fuel for the boats. 

It was interesting to visit Fashoda and see the place 
that Major Macdonald had struggled so hard and so 
bravely to reach, only to be foiled by mutiny among 
his troops in Uganda, which had to be crushed before he 
could go on. The expedition on which he was engaged 
was really a race against the French, who were also 
aiming at this point, but the English party met with 
difficulty after difficulty, and were delayed for so many 
months that the French arrived there first. There are 
not many signs of the former importance of Fashoda 
left; it was at one time fortified, but now there is 


I ♦ ^ 



The Journey Home 321 

nothing to be seen but the httle bungalow of the EngUsh 
Resident and a few ruins, among them being the house 
of Major Marchand, the French commander. 

At one place, named Juba, we stopped for a few 
moments to see Mr. and Mrs. Lea Wilson, who are 
forming here a branch station of the Church Missionary 
Society's Sudan Mission. Both of them looked as though 
hard work and the heat were telling upon their health, 
but they were full of interest and devoted to the work of 
establishing a school for the training of the youths from 
the scattered villages around, the inhabitants of which 
belong chiefly to the Dinka tribe. Mr. Shaw, the head 
of the Sudan Mission, was on board with us, and from 
him I was able to glean a certain amount of information 
about the Dinka and Shilluk tribes. He is the great 
authority on these people, and has wandered many miles 
among them ; one tour lasted six months, and even that 
only covered a part of his district on one side of the Nile 
and did not extend to the other side of the river at all. 
We called at Mongola, Mr. Shaw's station, in order that 
he might land at his house. This was the third place in 
the Sudan where I found Baganda teachers. These men 
are not of the class who go through the higher schools, 
and their training is very incomplete, but they are doing 
good work. At one point, too, we saw an Austrian 
mission, and we touched at another place where there 
was a mission station in the distance, but I did not go 
ashore at either, and can say nothing of their work. 

Most of the people here belong to the Dinka tribe, 
and, like the Bari and Shilluk, are akin to the pastoral 
people round Teso, showing that they are all branches of 
one great family of pastoral or semi-pastoral people. I 
was disappointed not to find more people in these regions 

322 The Soul of Central Africa 

and not to be able to work among them. The only value 
of the trip was that it gave me some idea of what the 
man who goes out to study these tribes will have to face. 
In the first place he must be master of some language 
or languages which will carry him through these vast 
regions, and then he must be prepared to wander about 
with nomadic pastoral tribes and go where they go until 
he has gathered all the information he can get from 

What struck me most forcibly was the uninteresting 
character of the country, and I failed utterly to find 
any sign of the great possibilities about v/hich so much 
has been said. I can say nothing about the mineral 
resources, which may be valuable, but there is only a 
meagre population, and agriculture seems excessively 
poor and not capable of much development except at 
enormous and unjustifiable expense. It seems inexplic- 
able that anything like the same value can be placed on 
this part of the Sudan as on the interior of the country. 
The farther north we came the more uninteresting and 
unproductive the country looked. The river itself is a 
huge swamp, and the steamer, guided by Sudanese 
pilots, ploughed her way through the reed and papyrus, 
commonly designated '' sud," which is often all that is 
visible. So tortuous is the course the steamer has to 
take that she often has to reverse her engines after a 
fruitless attempt to negotiate a sharp bend. 
•» One thing that caused me great trouble on this 
voyage was that we were carrying a cargo of oxen from 
Rejaf to Khartoum. These poor beasts were left to 
starve during the whole time of the voyage. It seemed 
to be no man's duty to look after them, and evidently 
the owners did not care so long as they were alive when 



The Journey Home 323 

they reached Khartoum, where they were, I believe, 
destined for the meat market. I asked one man after 
another about them and tried to find someone who could 
do anything to get some food for the starving animals. 
It was pitiful to see them fight for a few poor handfuls 
of grass from the river-side. I understand that livestock 
is frequently carried on these boats, and surely there 
should be someone whose business it is to see that such 
cruelty is not allowed. 

At Khartoum I was entertained by Mr. Crowfoot, 
the Minister of Education. He most kindly enabled 
me to see much of the working of the Gordon College, 
and also told me a good deal about the place. The 
buildings are well planned and built of stone, and are 
very substantial and commodious. There are various 
branches of training, and boys from all classes of life are 
provided for. There is an elementary department, where 
the education is general and suitable for the ordinary 
worker. Then there is a technical department, in which 
smithing and general ironwork, carpentry, and cabinet- 
making are excellently taught. In the upper school 
clerks, accountants, schoolmasters, and civil engineers are 
trained. There is a good staff of Englishmen, many of 
them graduates of our Universities. The work of the 
College is really very advanced; but, to my mind, the 
tendency of the whole training is rather to strengthen 
than to remove the barrier which Islam raises against 
the spread of Christianity and true civilization. It is 
an extraordinary state of affairs in a place which bears 
the name of a hero who gave his life for the cause of 
liberty, justice, and the Christian virtues, against which 
the whole forces of Islam are arrayed. 

I paid a hurried visit to the Christian schools in 

• ■ • \ 
324 The Soul of Central Africa 

' Khartoum. They are, I found, doing but little that can 
compare with the training offered to the men in the 
'Gordon College, where the influences are all Moslem. 
<> . •' ^ Christian lads have to be sent to the College because 
there is no other place where they can receive the 
education they want, but at present there are not many 

One day I was taken over to Omdurman, and saw 
the remains of the Mahdi's house and the fort where the 
forces under him gathered against Gordon. It was here 
that they concentrated their strength for the final attack 
in which Gordon lost his life. Here, too, it was that 
Kitchener made his great name and set on a firm founda- 
tion the tottering fame of Britain. Yet this is the land 
where the seed of the Moslem faith is being sown far 
and wide, and is, it seems, not only being allowed to 
grow but even w^atered and nourished by the British, 
under whose protection a crop of poisonous weeds, as 
noisome as those which Kitchener destroyed, is fast 
springing up. I saw here one of the schools which the 
Government is establishing as branches of the Gordon 
College. It is a well-equipped, fine building, doing, 
as far as education goes, a splendid work ; but it is plainly 
another of the agencies by which we, as a nation, are 
raising the propagators of Islam in Africa from a state 
of ignorance to the intellectual level of the advanced 
religions of the world. Under the old teachers of Islam 
in Africa that faith was doomed to give way before the 
advance of the higher and more progressive forms of 
religion, but an enormous impetus is now being given 
to it by the work of some of the best men of our British 
Universities in these schools. These men may indig- 
nantly deny the accusation, but there is not the slightest 



The Journey Home 325 

doubl that Islam is the religion which is encouraged. 
All forms and ceremonies of Christian worship are care- 
fully excluded, but the College has its mosque, and the 
regular attendance of the pupils is enforced and super- 
vised by the teachers, who not only thus indirectly but 
also by direct teaching encourage the false and exclude 
the true. 

I had been asked to send a report to Buganda of the 
Gordon College and of its suitability as a place to which 
Baganda boys might be sent for education. I need 
hardly say I wrote very strongly against any such 
scheme, and my opinion was supported by the Minister 
of Education. In addition to the Moslemic tendency 
of the whole of the training, the teaching is carried on 
in Arabic, a language which is entirely unknown to the 

In Omdurman there is a Christian hospital which is 
doing a good work in the face of many difficulties, for 
it receives but little recognition from the Government. 
I had not time to visit it, for my stay in Omdurman was 
limited to two or three hours, but as I passed I heard 
something about it and its work. 

In Khartoum is the Wellcome Research Laboratory, 
.which is carrying on such valuable and necessary work 
in research on the causes and cure of tropical diseases. 
I visited the laboratory and saw something of the 
wonderful diligence and care with which these investiga- 
tions are being carried on. 

The journey from Khartoum to Cairo by train and 
river-boat is so well known that it requires little descrip- 
tion from me. Though the heat was trying, I found 
much of interest in this part of the river. Here are to 
be seen the wonderful and elaborate dams, those feats 

326 The Soul of Central Africa 

of engineering by which water is retained to irrigate a 
dry and unfertile country where crops can only be grown 
within a few yards of the river; and a little farther 
south there is abundance of land which might be brought 
under cultivation without all this labour and expense, 
where, indeed, all that is required is improved means of 
transport, a problem very easy of solution. Here are 
still to be seen the ancient pumps such as the Israelites 
used in Egypt, and here there still exists a system of 
agriculture which can only be profitable where slave 
labour is available and is doomed to failure with paid 
labourers. The primitive conditions which prevail here 
under Moslem influence give, to my mind, the clearest 
proof of its non-progressive nature. What efficiency 
is shown in the surviving buildings belongs to a very 
early date, before the country was crushed under the 
heel of Islam. 

The wonderful temples of those earlier days which 
still stand beside the banks of the river are well worthy 
of careful preservation. It would be interesting to know 
something more of the purpose of these buildings and 
of the reason for their presence in such out-of-the-way 
places. At Assouan we were fortunate enough to see 
the temple on the little island. Usually only the roof is 
visible above the water, which is rapidly ruining the 
walls of the building, but when we passed the water 
was low and we could see this work of art in its full 

In Cairo I found I should have to wait some time 
for a passage home, and I took the opportunity of pay- 
ing a flying visit to Jerusalem. On my return to Cairo 
I found it best to go to Alexandria, cross to Taranto, 
and go home overland through France. 



The Journey Home 327 

I reached London once more at the end of sixteen 
months, and my feelings of joy at being home again 
were mingled with regrets for what had had to be left 
undone. Something has been accomplished, but there, 
yet remains much of which the investigation would be 
of the utmost value to anthropology. 


Aeroplane, an, and the medicine- 
man, 283 
Africa, ancient and modern, 1 

the white man in, 311 el seq. 
Africans, how they measure time, 62 

their love of the drum, 94 
Agents, native, work of, 304-6 
Agricultural peoples, 66 

aborigines, 53 

marriage customs of, 183 

of Bunyoro, 142 
Alexandria, 326 

Algerian Mission, fathers of, 299 
Almsgiving extraordinary, 42 
Amulets, 79 
Ankole, 40 

artisans, 73 et seq. 

Baganda in, 76 

beliefs and ceremonies of the Ba- 
huma, 78 et seq. 

chief minister of, 54 

death and funeral of the king of, 81 

divisions of time in, 62 

dwellings of, 58 

gods of, 78 

interview with king of, 55, 94 

long-horned cows of, 58 et seq. 

marriage of princesses in, 95 

polyandry in, 63 

polygamy in, 64 

suzerainty of, 52 

the Bahera of, 53 et seq., 66 et seq. 

the Bahuma of, 53 

the peoples, 52 et seq. 

the sacred drums of, 94, 95 

western part of, 96, 107 
Antelope, herds of, 109, 129 
Antelope-hunting, 131 
Apolo, Mwanga's prime minister, 243 
Artisans of Ankole, 73 et seq. 

of Bunyoro, 163 et seq. 
Assouan, 326 
Athi plain, fauna of, 34 
Auguries, 189, 214, 215 

Bagamoyo, 123 

author a prisoner in, 27 
" Baganda, The," 170 
Baganda, the, and the Banyoro, 141 

in Ankole, 76 

superstition re water-spirits, 100 

Bagesu tribe, the, 240, 244, 284 

children, 252 

disposal of the dead, 259 et seq. 

domestic animals of, 251 

dress of, 245, 257 

enmity between clans, 246 

hostility to strangers, 247 

initiation ceremonies, 245, 246, 254 
et seq. 

marriage, 245 

religion, 252 

treatment of rain-makers, 258 

women, 245 
Bahera, the, 53, 66 et seq., 73 

descent of, 67 

dress of, 65 

law courts of, 69 

totemic clans of, 69 
Bahuma, the, 53, 56 et seq. 

avoid marriage with Bahera, 66 

behefs and ceremonies of, 78 et seq, 

cows and their herdsmen, 58 et seq. 

death and burial of, 81 et seq., 87 

dress of, 65 

duties of women, 64 

high code of morality among, 62 

how illness is treated among, 85 

law courts of, 69 

milk diet of, 57 

wealth of, 60 

women, attire of, 65 ] 
Bakama tribe, the, 277 
Bakatara, the, 141 
Bakene lake-dwellers, 233, 234, 237 
Baker, Lady, 137 
Baker, Miss, 51, 54 

Baker, Sir Samuel, and King Kabarega, 

explorations of, 1, 141 

meets Speke and Grant, 218 
Bakunta, the, 110 
Bakyiga people, the, 102 

in Kigezi, 284 

marriage customs among, 103 et seq. 
Bamalaki, the, a religious sect, and 

their beliefs, 47, 262 et seq. 
Bamboo, as a vegetable, 273 

bridges, 266 
Bamuroga, chief minister of Bunyoro, 
174, 175, 176, 200, 202 
men of, 194 




Bantu peoples, their idea of sickness 

and death, 188 
Banyoro, the, care of children, 186 

Christianity among, 222 

definition of, 141, 142 

marriage customs among, 172 el seq. 

the king's children, 178 
Bark-cloth, fumigating, 171 

how painted, 169 
Bark-cloths, and how made, 170 
Barry, departure from, 5 
Basabei, the, customs of, 268 

food and dress, 270 

huts of, 269 

initiation ceremonies of, 270 et seq. 

marriage, 272 
Baskerville, Archdeacon, 41 
Basket-work, Ankole, 75 

Bunyoro, 169 
Batwa trappers, the, 273 
Beer-drinking among the Bagesu, 248 
Betrothal during infancy, 179 
Bible, the, translation of, into Luganda, 

Births of twins and triplets, 187 
Bisset, Miss, xi 
Blood-brothership, 72, 138 
Bond, Dr., his work at Kabarole, 126 
Borup, Mr., activities of, 42 
Brewer, Rev. H., 298 
Bridal customs, 82 
Brides, African, 180 et seq. 
Bridges, bamboo, 266 
British East Africa becomes a Protec- 
torate, 31 
British East Africa Company, the, 29, 

British rule, benefits of, 303 
Browning, Mr., 122 
Budu, bark -cloth in, 170 
Buffalo in the path, 128 
Buganda, and Bunyoro, 141 

decline of religious enthusiasm in, 

Kakungulu in, 242 
Bunyoro (Katara), 141 

a middle-class in, 142, 153 

appointment of the queen, 172 

artisans, 163 et seq. 

cattle-rearing in, 220 

death, burial and succession, 188 et 

definition of, 141 

king of, 136, 140 et seq., 204 et 
seq., 300 

milking the sacred cows, 144 et seq., 

of to-day, 218 

princesses of, 177 

religion of, 213 

the king's harem, 150, 177 

work in, 135 

Burial customs, African, 59, 81 et seq., 
87, 188, 192, 199 et seq., 230, 259 
et seq. 
Burton, explorations of, 1 
Busoga, 284 

history of, 291 

Kakungulu in, 243 

past and present, 289, 293 

ruled by Buganda, 291 

ruled by Bunyoro, 141 
Busoga — Jinja railway, 221 
Busted, Mr., 234 
Butiaba, a night at, 231 

arrival at, 314 

en route for, 132, 230 
Buxton School, Mombasa, 31 

Cabinet-work, 221 

Cairo, journey from Khartoum to, 

Camp routine, 120 
Cannibal tribes, 118, 124 
Cannibalism, ceremonial, 260-1 
Canoes and how constructed, 287 

of Busoga, 290 
Canterbury, Archbishop of, 41 
Cape Verde Islands, the, 8 et seq. 
Cape Vincent, 9 et seq. 
Cappalonia, 12 

Cargo, how discharged, 17 et seq., 21 
Cargo ship, life on a, 4 et seq. 
Carpenters of Ankole, 73 et seq. 
of Bunyoro, 168-9 
taboos observed by, 73 
Carriers, trouble amongst, 239, 278 
Carrying loads, method of, 270 
Carter, Sir James, 296, 298 
Casati, Captain, blood-brothership with 

a chief, 138 
Caves of Mount Elgon and Sipi, 265, 

274 et seq. 
Central Africa, railway travel, past and 

present, in, 33 et seq. 
Cerebro-spinal meningitis, 102 
Charms against sickness, 79 
Chastity before and after marriage, 62, 

Chief, judgment of a, 211-2 
Childbirth, 91, 186, 212 
Children, birth and after-treatment of, 

91, 178, 253 
European, 312 
Church Missionary Society, stations of, 

30, 126, 221, 282, 308, 321 
" Church of the Almighty," the, 264 
Circumcision, the rite of, 271 
Clan brothership, 63 
Clan communism among the Banyoro, 

186 et seq., 193 
Clan MacArthur, 4 et seq. 
Clan MacQuarrie, 21 



Clan membership initiation ceremonies, 

254 et seq. 
Clan regulations regarding burial, 192 
Clans, exogamous, 69, 245, 247 et seq. 
Cleansing, the ceremony of, 83 
Clergy, supply of, 311 
Clothing of Ankole peoples, 68 
Coaling and how carried out, 9 
Coaling-station at Delagoa Bay, 20 
Coffee-growing, 218 
Communism among Banyoro, 193 
Contagious diseases and how treated, 

Cook, the king's, 149 
Coryndon, Sir Robert, 296, 297 
Cotton-growing, 219, 235 
Court of Ankole, royal, 69 et seq. 
Cowdung fires, 59 
Cowmen and their herd, 59 et seq. 
Cows, a sacred herd of, 144 et seq., 206 
as currency, 61 
as marriage fees, 179, 251 
belong to the king, 61 
curing sickness of, 86, 159 
how they are watered, 60 et seq. 
long-horned, of Ankole, 58 et seq. 
Cox, Mr., 280, 282, 284 
Cox, Rev. W. A., xi 
Crabtree, Rev. W. A., 244 
Crocodiles, disappointed, 130, 131 
Crowfoot, Mr., Minister of Education, 

Dancing, native lore of, 248, 256, 272 

of women, 65 
Daudi Chwa, 45 

Death, how the king is told of a, 194-5 
Deities of the Bahuma, 78 
Delagoa Bay, 19 

Dillistone, Rev. H. and Mrs., 134-5 
Dinka tribe, 321 
Dress of Bahuma, 65 

of Basabei, 270 
Drinking, Bagesu custom of, 248 
Drums as fetishes, 95 

native love of, 94 

sacred, 94 et seq. 
" Dug-out canoes," definition of, 112 
Dung-heap as grave, 59, 87 
Durban, arrival at, 17 

the town, 18, 19 

Earthquake shocks on the Luenzori 

range, 124 
East London, a flag-code message at, 

15 (cf. Rangkok) 
Eden, Mr. Guy, 281, 282, 284, 296, 298 
Eden, Mrs., 282, 289, 298 
Education in Uganda, 299-300, 309 
of pastors. 222 

Educational difficulties, 222, 299-300, 

Egypt, irrigation of, 325 
Elgon, cf. Mount Elgon 
Emin Pasha, and King Kabarega, 138 

death of, 123 
Entebbe, a visit to, 296 

station at, 39, 40 
European settlers, influence of, 219 
Exogamous clans, 69, 245, 247 et seq. 
Exogamy, enforcement of, 69 
Exorcising the ghost, 189 et seq. 

Famine, 65 

Fashoda, a visit to, 320 

Fatness considered beauty, 57, 64, 179 

Fetishes, and their significance, 79 

drums as, 95 
Filleul, Mr., xi, 96 
Fire, sacred, 59 
Fishing, old-time, 294 
Flies, the pest of, 10, 316 
Flint-chips, discovery of, 294 
Fort Portal, 122 
Frame, Mr., 232, 301, 316, 317 
Frazer, Sir James G., viii, x? 
Frere Town, 29, 30 
Fryatt, Captain, trial of, 23 

Galla tribe, the, 26, 277, 278 
Geologists, work for, 98 
Germans and Delagoa Bay, 19 
Ghosts, Bahuma ideas concerning, 85, 

cattle of, 198 

exorcising, 189 et seq. 

milk offered to, 78, 88, 92 

shrines for, 59, 85, 86, 89, 214, 252 

the Bagesu, 251 

worship of, 198 
Girls, preparation of, for marriage, 253 
Girls' school, Kabarole, 126 
Goats as marriage fee, 68 
Gods, the, mountains of, 214 

of Bagesu, 251 

of Bahuma, 78 

of Bunyoro, and their priests, 213, 
Gordon College, Khartoum, 323 
Gordon, General, death of, 123, 324 
Gordon's Hill, 319 
Gourds as milk vessels, 268, 269 
Government Commissioner at Mbale, 

Government of the Protectorate, 284 
Grace, Mr., 51, 53, 54 
Grant, James A., explorations of, 1, 

141, 218 
Graphite mine, visit to a, 228 
Grass fires, discomforts of, 114 
Great War, yie, reminiscences of, 15, 22 



Haddon, E., 232, 300, 314, 315 

Half-caste problem, the, 316 

Hall, Marshall, geologist, 232, 301, 316 

Hannington, Bishop, his fatal journey, 
' 30 
murder of, 290 

Hannington-Parker Memorial Cathe- 
dral, Mombasa, 30 

Harem, a royal, and how replenished, 
150 et seq,, 111 

Harvest festival of the Bagesu, 247 

Healing by suggestion, 191 

Heir, the, and the period of mourning, 
duties towards his predecessor, 198 

Herald of the cows, and his office, 144, 
145, 208 

Herd, a, sickness in, and how treated, 

Herding the sacred cows, 206 

Herdsmen, and the cows, 60 et seq. 
their fearlessness of wild animals, 84 

Hippopotamus, the, defence of its 
young, 288 

Hoima, a month at, 224 et seq. 

Hot springs, 113, 124, 160 

Hut, decorated, 95 

of the drums, the, 94, 95 

Huts, mud, 269 
sacred, 207 

Iganga, 289 

Immorality, influence of, 304, 317 

Indian traders, settlements of, 237, 

241, 244, 289, 307 
Influenza, an epidemic of, 227 
Inheritance, 87 et seq. 
Initiation ceremonies, tribal, 178, 237, 

245,246, 254 ef seq., 210 et seq.,211 
Inoculation camps, 99 
Intermarriage forbidden, 66 
Iron from Bunyoro, 142 
Iron-working industry, 163 et seq. 
Irrigation of Egypt, 325 
Isimbwe, Bahuma deity, 78 
Islamism in Africa, 324 

Jerusalem, a flying visit to, 326 
Jinja, 281, 282, 290, 293 

arrival at, 289 
Juba, mission station at, 321 

KabakOy definition of, 45 
Kabarega, King, and Sir Samuel Baker, 

and the cattle, 218 

becomes a Christian, 140 

capture of, 139 

hostility to Europeans, 138 
Kabarole, 118. 122 

Kabarole, mission work in, 126 
Kakungulu, 242, 262, 264 

conversion of, 243 

religion of, 264 
Kampala, a night at, 297 

agricultural changes in, 48 

European settlers in, 44 

manners of the people of, 46 

recollections of, 41 

survival of heathen customs in, 43 

the cathedral, 42 

the first churches of, 41-2 

women of, 310 
Kamuli, 298 

missions at, 298, 299 

school for boys at, 299 
Karamojo tribe, the, 277 
Kasagama, King of Toro, 123 
Kashoba, Bahuma deity, 78 
Kasuju, a chief of Muganda tribe, 98 
Katara (Bunyoro, q.v.), 141 
Katikiro, and Kakungulu, 243 

definition of, 243 
Katwe, salt from, 111 

salt-works at, 112 et seq., 124 
Kavirondo, 38 

Kakungulu sent to, 243 
Khartoum, author at, 323 

Gordon College at, 323 

route to, from Mombasa, 221 

Wellcome Research Laboratory at, 
Kibero, funeral ceremonies at, 230 

salt-works of, 159, 228 
Kigezi, Bakyiga in, 284 

en route for, 97 

people, the, 101 

pygmies in, 101 

trials of Government stafi in, 104 
Kikuyu tribe, the, 270 
Kilindini port, 23, 25, 32 
King's mother, the, and her office, 172, 

King's representative, 200 
Kings, death and funeral of, 81 et seq., 

199 et seq. 
Kirikiti tree, 72 
Kitchener, Lord, 324 
Kiziba country, 141 
Koki, 242 
Koko (Koko Njero), 241 

Bagesu tribe on, 284 
Kraals, 58, 97. 270 
Krapf, 30 
Kyagamba, 98, 99 

Labour question, difficulties of, in 

Kampala, 48, 306 
Lake Albert, 132, 134, 220 

journey to, 127 

road to Rejaf, 221 



Lake Edward, 105, 109 

crossing the ferry, 111 
Lake Kioga, 220, 232, 233 

scenery of, 233 
Lake Salisbury, a journey to, 234 

catechists of, 311 
Lake Victoria, 38 
Lake-dwellers, 233, 234, 237 
Leopard, jump of a, 277 
Leopards, sacred, 80 
Lewali, native Governor of Mombasa, 

27 et seq. 
Lion, the, method of hunting, 84 

why considered sacred, 80, 83 
Lions at Hoima, 225-7 

when they attack man, 109, 227 
Livingstone, explorations of, 1 
Lloyd, Rev. A. B., 122 
Louren^o Marques {see Delagoa Bay) 
Luba, 292 

and Bishop Hannington, 290 
Luenzori, mountain range of, 113, 114 

cannibal tribes of, 124 
Luganda, 52 
Lugard, Captain, 123 
Lunyoro language, 52 

Macdon-\ld, Major (General Sir 

Ronald), 233, 320 
Mackie Ethnological Expedition, the, 

vii, ix, 3 
Mackie, Sir Peter, challenge cups for 
Uganda schools from, 300 
munificence of, viii, 3 
Magic, native belief in power of, 188, 

Magic-working, innocuous, 229 
Marchand, Major, house of, at 

Fashoda, 321 
Marriage by capture, 90 

ceremonies and customs, 89, 90, 95, 
103 et seq.. 172 et seq., 182, 183, 
185, 186, 245, 249, 272 
fees, 68, 179, 183 
milk, and what it signified, 181 
Masai tribe, 277 

resemblance to the Basabei, 270 
Masaka, a night at, 49 
Masindi, 125, 131, 132 
author at, 133, 231 
mission station at, 221 
work in, 136, 224 
Mats, sacred, 207 
Mau Escarpment, the, 36 
Mb ale, Government station at, 239, 241, 
Kakungulu's possessions at, 244 
return to, 279 

starting work among the Bagesu, 
Mbarara, arrival at, 51 

Mbarara, condition of, 77 

plantain cultivators in, 76 
Meat-eating, ceremonial, 149 
Medicine-man, a, and an aeroplane, 

the chief, 158, 212 
Medicine-men, exorcising the ghost, 85, 
189 et seq. 

skill of, 159 
Mengo, 45 
Middle class, the, origin! and influence 

of, 142, 153 
Milk diet, effect of, 57 

of the king, 144 

taboos, 92, 159 
Milking the sacred cows, 144 et seq., 

Milkmaids of the king, 144 et seq. 
Milkmen of the king, 144 et seq. 
Milkpot, royal, 148 
Mill Hill, mission workers from, 298 
Missionaries, difficulties encountered 

by, 308 et seq. 
Missions, 126, 298, 299, 308, 321 
Mitchell, Dr. Chalmers, 283 
Mock kings, and their courts, 200 

strangling of, 200, 203 
Mombasa, arrival at, 23 

climate of, 29, 31, 32 

decline of, 32 

first days in, 26 et seq. 

first sight of, 24 

route to Khartoum and Cairo, 221 

sights of, 29 

the cathedral at, 30 
Mongola, 321 
Moon, the, and childbirth, 62, 212 

and marriage, 213 
Moslem influence, effects of, 326 
Mosquitoes, a plague of, 231, 288 
Mosquito-proof houses, 241 
Mother of the king, 176 
Motor service, connexions by land and 

sea, 221 
Motors, a regular service of, 220 
Mount Elgon, a holiday tour round 
281 et seq. 

arable land on, 250 

Bagesu tribe on, 244, 24b 

journey to, 237 et seq. 

kraals on, 270 

scenery of, 266 

special initiation ceremonies on, 237 
Mountains, sacred, 214 
Mourning ceremonies, 193 
Mpologoma River, crossing the, 287 
Muchwa, 173 
Mugabe, definition of, 52 
" Mugoli wa Muchwa," meaning of the 

title, 173 
Mukama, definition of, 224 
Munyawa, head of the royal clan, 174 



Murder, trial lor : the king as judge, 

70 et seq. 
Mutesa entertains Stanley, 45 
Mutilation among pastoral tribes, 277 
Mwanga, King of Buganda, and 
Kabnrega, 138 
and the murder of Bishop Hanning- 

ton, 30, 290 
death of, 140 
flight and capture of, 139 
Kakungulu and, 242 
treachery of, 30 
Mwoka, Lake, 100 

Nabumale, a visit to, 282 
Nairobi, 30, 31 

arrival at, 35 

environs of, 37 

railway repair workshops at, 36 

railway to, 33 
Nakasero, 44, 45 

Namirembe Kampala, a visit to, 41 
Nandi tribe, the, 268, 270, 277 
Natal, arrival at, 16 
Ndohola, deity of the Bahuma, 78 
Negro-Hamitic races, possibilities of, 

New-moon ceremonies, the, 62, 209 et 

seq., 225 
Nile, cataracts of the, 316 

dams, the, 325 

scenerv, 320, 322 
Nilotic races, 234, 319 

and Bunyoro, 141 

in Teso, 234-5 
Nimule, 301, 315 

" Nyina Mukama," meaning of the 
title, 172 

Oath, taking the, 257 

Obesity of women as a mark of beauty, 

57, 64, 179 
Oflicers of Uganda Protectorate, a 

tribute to, 303 
Oliver, Captain, of Clan MacQuarric, 22 
Omdurman, a visit to, 324 
Christian hospital at, 325 
school at, 324 
the Mahdi's house at, 324 
Ore-digging, an ofEering to the spirit 

of the hill, 164 
Ornaments, love of Teso women for, 

Owen Falls, the, 293 

Pageant at Hoima, 225 

Papyrus, luxuriant growth of, 287, 

Pastors, training of native, 222, 309 
Pastoral tribes, the, 57 et seq., 66 et seq., 

95, 186, 269, 277 

Pastoral tribes, dividing line between, 

Peas, multi-coloured edible, 101, 108 
Phillips, Mr., garden of, 108 
Pilkington, Mr. G. L., 309 
Plantain cultivation, 76 

fibre, 162, 171 
Plantains, disease among, 48 
Polyandry, existence of, in Ankole, 63 
Polygamy in Ankole, 64 

in Kigezi, 104 

in Bunyoro, 186 
Porridge in marriage ceremony, 184 
Portal, Sir Gerald, 45 
Porterage, system of, 105, 238 
Potters, Ankole, 74, 75 

Bunyoro, 167 
Pottery, hand-made, 74 
Priest of the Sacred Forest, the, ofTice 

of, 81 
Priest, the king as, 153 et seq., 204 et 

Princes, early marriage of, 178 
Princesses, marriage of, 95, 177 

their part in basket-work and bark- 
cloth painting, 169 
Property, clan-communism regarding, 

women's rights regarding, 88 
Provincial Commissioner, natives and, 

Puff-adder, a, swallows a frog, 315 
Pumps, ancient, 326 
Purification ceremonies, 81 et seq., 
88 et seq., 182, 202 

of milkmen, 145 
Pygmies in Belgian territory, 101 
Pythons, sacredness of, 80, 84 

Queen, the, how appointed in Bun- 
yoro, 172 et seq. 
reception-room of, 173-4 
sceptre of, 174 

Raids for cattle, 216-217 
Rain-makers, 154 et seq., 258 et seq. 

their sacred place, 209 
Rains, and the division of the year, 62, 

R-unstorm, an unusual, 267 
Rangkok arrives at Durban, 18 
Reception feast after marriage, the, 184 
Redman, 30 

Reincarnation, behef in, 82, 200 
Rejaf, 315 et seq. 

road to, 221, 316 
Requirements of the native, 306 
Rinderpest, 65, 99, 159, 227 
Ripon Falls, the, 293, 294 
Rivers, crossing, 119 et seq. 
Road-building, 220, 305 



Roman Catholic missions, 298, 299 
Roscoe, Rev. John, a pageant arranged 
for, 225 

a prisoner in Bagamoyo, 27 

a stay in Kampala, 41 

and consecration of Uganda cathe- 
dral, 42 

and Kakungulu, 239, 242 el seq. 

and the Bamalaki, 262 et seq. 

as supernumerary on cargo ship, 
5 et seq. 

attends Bagesu initiation ceremonies, 

ethnological investigations of, vii, 
26 et seq. 

explores a graphite mine, 228 

farewell to Uganda, 300 et seq. 

investigates caves of Mount Elgon, 

journey from Mbale to Sabei, 265 
et seq. 

meets an old pupil, 237 

reaches London, 327 

repori:s on Gordon College, 325 

sees the rain-makers' temple, 225 

the journey home, 314 et seq. 

visits salt-works, 112 et seq.^ 228 

visits the king of Ankole, 55, 94 

witnesses an extraordinary astro- 
nomical sight, 13 

work in Bunyoro, 135 
Royal Society, the, viii, 3 
Royal standards, curious, 210 
Ruble, Mr., 49, 50 
Rufuki River, 100 

Sabei, journey to, 265 et seq. 
Sacred cows, 144 et seq. 

milking the, 144 et seq., 206 
Sacred drums, 94 et seq. 
Sacred Guild, the, 176, 177, 207 

introduction into, 196 

trial of a member of, 210 
Sacred pools, 160 et seq. 
Sacrifices, human, 161 
Salt, the king's tax on, 162 

why given to cows, 159 
Salt-works at Kibero, 159 el seq., 228 

of Bunyoro, 159, 228 

of Toro, 112 el seq. 

sacred pools at, 160 
Scarifications among Bagesu, 253 
School for children, at Kamuli, 299 

at Kibero, 230 

in Kaberole, 126 
Sekibobo, 291 

Semliki Valley, hot springs of, 113, 124, 

salt in the, 124 
Settlers, duties of, 219, 312 
Shark's fight with a whale, 16 

Shaw, Mr., head of Sudan Mission, 321 

Sheep as marriage fee, 68 

Shilluk tribe, 321 

Shimba Hills, 24, 32 

Shrines for ^osts, 59, 85, 86, 89, 214, 

Sickness, charms against, 79 

how regarded and treated, 85, 188 
et seq. 

in the herd, 85 
Sipi Fall, the, and its vegetation, 266 

the caves, 276 
Sir Samuel Baker, 132, 230, 315 
Sleeping sickness area, a, 109, 110, 

Smelting, the process of, 163 et seq. 
Smelting-furnace, a, 165 
Smiths, the, of Bunyoro, 166-167 

of Bakama, 277 
Somali tribe, the, 277 
Soroti, 233 

a cotton company at, 235 

arrival at, 234 
Souls, transmigration of, 80 et seq. 
Spear-holder, the royal, 207 
Speke, explorations of, 1, 141, 218 
Spirit of the hill, propitiating the, 164, 

of the tree, 163 
Spirits, alcoholic, care necessary in 

discharging, 21 
Stanley, Sir H., a famous letter from, 
and its results, 45 

entertained by Mutesa, 45 

explorations of, 1 
State-trial, a, 210 

Sterling, captain of Clan MacArthur, 
6 et seq. 

farewell to, 21 
Storm at sea, a, 14 
Succession, and how settled, 200 
Sudan Mission, the, 321 
Sudan, the, agriculture in, 322 

entry into, 315 
Sudanese troops in Toro, 123 

mutiny of, 45 
SuUivan,^Mr., 96 
Surgery, advance of, in Uganda, 300 

Taboos and their observance, 73, 92, 

93, 164 
Tar, difficulties of discharging, 21 
Taranto, 326 
Teachers, native, 311 
Teeth extraction, the tribal custom of, 

178, 277 
Temples, Egyptian, 326 
Teso country, 233, 234 

cattle in, 218 

Kakungulu's work in, 243 

people of, 234, 235 



Thunderstorms, heavy, 107, 128 
Time, divisions of, 62, 208 
Toro, 112, 123 

coffee-growing in, 124 
crossing the rivers, 119 ct seq. 
difficulties on the march, 115 e/ seq. 
salt-works of, 112 et seq., 124 
the people of, 125 
Totemic clans and their customs, 69 

(see also Clans) 
Transmigration of souls, the, belief in, 

Transport, improved methods of, 220, 

Tree-spirits, propitiating the, 163 
Tribes becoming extinct, 307 
Triplets, birth of, and the attendant 

penalties, 187 
Tucker, Rt. Rev. A. R., first Bishop of 

Uganda, 42 
Turkana tribe, the, 234, 268, 277 
Twins, birth of, and a dance in honour 
of event, 186 

Uganda, Bishop Hannington at, 30 

consecration of cathedral of, 42 

cultivation of the land in, 306 

depopulation of, 307 

education in, 299-300 

farewell to, 300 

native agents of, 304 

progressive changes in, 40 

skill of native surgeons in, 300 

state of the country, 301 et seq. 

the missions in, 308 et seq. (see also 

the native pastors, 222, 309 

tribute to officers of, 303 
Uganda Protectorate, government of, 
284 et seq. 

Western Province of, 52 

Uganda Railway, survey of, 233 

terminus of, 29, 31 
Ugogo, buildings of, 269 
Usagara hills, the, buildings in, 269 

Vegetable diet, effects of, 66 
Veiled women, 99 
Venereal disease, 237, 307 
Ventriloquism as aid to medicine-men, 

Victoria Nile, 293-4 

Wahumba tribe, the, 270 
Walker, Archdeacon, 42 
Wamala, Bahuma deity, 78 
Wamegi tribe, the, 270 
War, country in time of, 201 
Warfare, native, 216 
Wart-hog, a scared, 130 
Waterfalls, African, 108 
Water-power on the Victoria Nile, 293 
Water-spirits, African belief in, 100, 

Wellcome, Mr., munificent gift from, x 
Wellcome Research Laboratory, Khar- 
toum, 325 
Whale's fight with a shark, 16 
Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Lea, 321 
Wireless installation on cargo ships, 8 
Wives of the king, 152, 177 
Women, agriculturist, 227 

death and burial of, 89 

potters, 74 

work of, 92, 126, 183, 227 

Year, the, how reckoned 
Ankole peoples, 62 

Zanzibar, 23 
Sultan of, 28 


Printed in England by Cassell & Company, Limited, London, E.C.4. 

rt r o f\ '1 A 


'm t 1990